CNNSI.com CNNSI.com's complete coverage of the FIFA World Cup 2002 World Cup


 

Uruguay

  • At a Glance
  • Team Profile
  • Key Player
  • Weak Point
  • X-Factor
  • How They Qualified
  • World Cup History
  • Bottom Line
  • Twelve years later, Uruguay is back on football's world stage. It wasn't easy, though. After battling through a challenging qualifying campaign in South America, the Uruguayans had to beat Australia in a playoff.

    Uruguay has an impressive footballing history, winning two World Cups, 14 Copa Americas and two Olympic titles. But football fans in the small nation have not celebrated a trophy since their latest continental success in 1995. Needless to say, then, there is a lot of pressure on this team of young and talented players.

    As the countdown to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan continues, CNNSI.com's Pedro Pinto takes a close look at all of the nations that will contend for football's greatest prize.

    Pinto is an anchor on World Sport, the international sports show that airs live on CNN/Sports Illustrated and CNN International.


    Which Uruguayan team is going to show up? The one that beat Brazil and thrashed Ecuador, or the one that lost to Venezuela and drew at home against Peru? Victor Pua's side was inconsistent at best in qualifying, but that is not surprising considering it is young and inexperienced.

    Therefore, 30 year-old defender Paolo Montero has to be the man to step up and lead the team on the field. The Juventus player is definitely one of the hardest defenders around, and his reputation will scare away a few forwards, but he will have to receive some help from the rest of the back line. Roma's Gianni Guigou will be asked to take on the playmaking role in a midfield lacking a true creator. That means Alvaro Recoba needs to double up as provider and finisher. The Inter Milan forward will probably play just behind striker Dario Silva.


     
     
    Alvaro Recoba. He can win a game on his own. This 26-year-old forward has the skills necessary to become one of the stars of the tournament. His dribbling skills are stellar and he is deadly from freekicks around the area. Recoba's only problem is his consistency, as he can very easily drift out of games. Pua needs to keep the Inter man motivated and involved up front in order to get the best out of him.

    Goalscoring. Uruguay scored only 19 goals in 18 South American qualifying games -- a poor goalscoring record, especially considering the fact that Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru have very permeable back lines. There are two main reasons for this goal drought. The team has no real maestro in midfield, someone who can spray balls around and create scoring opportunities; and, it also lacks a true target man. Dario Silva is a very good player, but he is not a predator and sometimes drifts away from the area. This means many times there is no one at the end of crosses provided by Recoba, Federico Magallanes or Guigou. Manager Pua has to convince Silva to stay in the box in order for the team to be successful.

    Leadership. Who is going to guide this team in the finals? None of the players have ever been in a major tournament... neither has Pua. Paolo Montero is normally the captain, but he is known for getting himself sent off all too easily. Every team needs someone to look up to, and either someone rises to the task or Uruguay will struggle to find an identity and any kind of direction.

    Uruguay made the finals after beating Australia 3-1 in a two-leg playoff. This after finishing in fifth place in the South American qualifying competition. The Uruguayans won seven, drew six and lost five of their 18 games in the group, scoring 19 goals and conceding 13.

    Uruguay is playing in its 10th World Cup finals. It was champion in 1930 and 1950 and finished fourth in 1954 and 1970. Its last appearance was in 1990, when it was eliminated in the second round.

    Uruguay will struggle to make the second round. They are too inconsistent and inexperienced to make any kind of run in the finals. Recoba is a very talented player, but even he has trouble delivering the goods in every game. Pua is a good motivator but what this team needs is an organizer.

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