By 90Min
June 14, 2019

After failing to get out of the group phase of the Copa América three years ago, Uruguay will be hoping to have a better showing in this year's tournament as they start their 2019 Copa América campaign on Sunday night.

Here we will take a look at how La Celeste are shaping up ahead of the big kick off in Brazil.


Squad

Luis Suárez was included in Uruguay's final-23 despite sustaining a knee injury with Barcelona towards the end of the season that required him to undergo surgery.

The 32-year-old recovered in time to be named in the Copa América squad and came off the bench to score in Uruguay's friendly victory over Panama on Saturday.

With PSG's Edinson Cavani alongside Suárez, Uruguay have arguably the best strike partnership of any team in the tournament.


Despite the fact that the pair are now coming to the latter part of their careers, they remain two of the best strikers in world football and will be crucial to Uruguay's chances of winning a 16th Copa América title.

Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martín Campaña (Independiente), Martín Silva (Libertad).


Defenders: Diego Godín (Atlético Madrid), José Giménez (Atlético Madrid), Sebastián Coates (Sporting CP), Martín Cáceres (Juventus), Giovanni González (Peñarol), Diego Laxalt (Milan), Marcelo Saracchi (RB Leipzig).


Midfielders: Lucas Torreira (Arsenal), Matías Vecino (Inter), Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus), Nahitan Nández (Boca Juniors), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid), Nicolás Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders), Giorgian Arrascaeta (Flamengo), Gastón Pereiro (PSV).


Forwards: Edinson Cavani (PSG), Cristhian Stuani (Girona), Maximiliano Gómez (Celta), Jonathan Rodríguez (Cruz Azul), Luis Suárez (Barcelona).


                             Manager

Óscar Tabárez has been managing Uruguay since 2006 and is one of the longest-serving current international managers.

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Widely regarded as one of the best international managers around, Tabárez guided Uruguay to their last Copa América triumph in Argentina in 2011 and to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup.


The 72-year-old is renowned for his ability to make his side resolute and well-drilled, Uruguay  conceded just three goals in their 2011 Copa América victory.


He has admirably continued on as Uruguay manager despite battling neurological disease Guillain-Barre syndrome since 2016. At the 2018 World Cup he managed La Celeste to the quarter-finals of the tournament where they lost to eventual winners France. 


Recent Form

Since their World Cup exit, Uruguay participated in - and won - the 2019 China Cup, beating Uzbekistan in the semi-finals and Thailand in the final.

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They beat Panama 3-0 in a friendly on Saturday and have scored 10 goals and conceded none since the World Cup.

However, La Celeste have only played three games in a period of just under a year and  consequently may find themselves under-prepared coming into this tournament.


Strengths 

While Uruguay have two of the best strikers in the world, it is their backline that has made them such a tough team to play against in recent years

Julian Finney/GettyImages

Led brilliantly by Atlético Madrid captain Diego Godín, Uruguay's defence can seem near-impenetrable at their best.


They went through the group stages of last year's World Cup without conceding a goal and despite having a reputation of being an aggressive team, they did not pick up a single yellow or red card in this phase of the tournament.


Godín has forged an impressive defensive partnership with José Giménez, who he also plays with at Atlético Madrid and with manager Tabárez preferring to set up his team in a rigid and defensive manner, Uruguay could easily shut out the best attacking players in this tournament.


Weaknesses 


Uruguay have many central midfielders who are hard-working, tenacious and diligent, however all of their players in this area have similar attributes and there is a dearth of creativity and guile here.

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When coming up against teams that are organised and deny them space, Uruguay can look predictable and lacking in imagination. 


While they are brilliant at protecting leads, they can find it difficult to chase in games, as shown by their defeat to France at the World Cup, where they struggled to create many chances once they had conceded.


Group C Opponents

Uruguay will start their tournament against Ecuador and will be strong favourites to secure a win. While they should not be underestimated, Ecuador's squad is lacking in quality and experience at the highest level and La Celeste will be disappointed if they don't pick up three points from this fixture.

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In their second game Uruguay will play Japan, who have been invited as a guest team in this tournament. Japan beat a south American side at the World Cup last summer - securing a 2-1 victory over Colombia in the World Cup - and will provide a tricky test for this Uruguay team.

Uruguay's hardest fixture is likely to be their last group game which is against holders Chile. Chile have won the last two Copa América tournaments and will be one of the favourite to win again this year.

La Celeste lost their last meeting with Chile in 2016 in a World Cup qualification fixture but may be buoyed by the fact that they do not play La Roja until the final group game, by which point they may have already secured qualification to the quarter-finals.


Sunday 16th June Uruguay v Ecuador 23:00 Estádio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
Friday 21st June Uruguay v Japan 00:00 Arena do Grêmio, Porto Alegre
Tuesday 25th June Chile v Uruguay 00:00 Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro


Route to the Final

Even though Uruguay's three key players - Cavani, Godín and Suárez are all in their 30s, they are still performing at an incredibly high level and provide them with one of the strongest spines in the tournament and an excellent chance of winning it.


La Celeste should win the group and if they do so they will play the highest-ranked third-place team from Group A or Group B, likely to be either Venezuela or Paraguay.

Buda Mendes/GettyImages

If they win their quarter-final they are likely to set up a clash with Argentina or Chile in the semi-finals.


A semi-final victory should set up a meeting with host nation Brazil in the final at the Maracanã on 7th July.

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