Oscar Tabarez

AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan

2018 World Cup team preview: Uruguay

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Getting to know Uruguay: It won its first two World Cups, and has thrice been semifinalists, but may be on the precipice of wasting two golden chances to make deep runs.

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Uruguay was a chic choice to make a run in 2014, buoyed by the success of one Luis Suarez, but his biting incident hampered their chances of making a run through the knockout rounds. It was a 2-0 loss to Colombia, a side it had beaten in qualifying the previous Fall, that sent Uruguay packing from Brazil.

Oscar Tabarez’s side is younger now, but still boasts two of the best strikers in the world and terrific center backs who also play together for club in Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez. With those in the arsenal, it’s got a chance to make a run.

For more history on Uruguay, click here.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 


What group are they in? Group A


Game schedule – Group A – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Friday, June 15: Egypt vs. Uruguay, Yekaterinburg 8 a.m. ET
Weds., June 20: Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia, Rostov-on-Don 11 a.m. ET
Monday, June 25: Uruguay vs. Russia, Samara 10 a.m. ET


Projected lineup (4-4-2) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

Muslera

Varela — Godin — Gimenez — Laxalt

Nandez — Betancur — Vecina — Rodriguez

Suarez — Cavani


Star player: Luis Suarez — He’s scored 30 or more club goals in five of six seasons, and likely would’ve made it a perfect six had he not been suspended for biting Giorgio Chiellini. Along with fellow 31-year-old striker and 2011 Copa America winner Edinson Cavani, this is a huge tournament for his international legacy.


Manager: Óscar Tabárez – The argument for consistency, Tabarez has led Uruguay since 2006. That includes a fourth-place run at the 2010 World Cup, and who knows how far Luis Suarez and Co. could have gone in 2014 had the star striker not gone 28 Days Later on Giorgio Chiellini. He knows his side well.


Secret weapon: Rodrigo Betancur — The 20-year-old Juventus midfielder is going to get his chance to lay claim to a major and long-term midfield role with Uruguay.


Prediction: With all due respect to the magnificence of Mohamed Salah as well as the power of a host nation in Russia, it would be a monumental disappointment if Uruguay failed to make it out of group play. The group winners and runners-up face Group B, which will likely be Spain or Portugal so… pick your poison.

It appears nobody told Luis Suarez he couldn’t play against Venezuela

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Suarez injured his hamstring in the Copa del Rey final for Barcelona, and his participation in the entire Copa America has been in question. He did not appear in Uruguay’s opening round loss to Mexico, and he was a doubt to be ready for their vital match with Venezuela.

But with Uruguay down 1-0 to Venezuela in the 80th minute, Edinson Cavani struggling mightily, and their Copa America lives on the line, El Pistolero was ready to come into the game. He loaded up his shin guards, taped his socks, warmed up on the sidelines, took off his substitute bib, and told head coach Oscar Tabarez he was ready to go.

[ RELATED: Uruguay falls 1-0 to Venezuela ]

Except he couldn’t play. Not because he was injured, but because he legally couldn’t play.

Before the match, according to the Fox broadcast, Tabarez listed Suarez as “ineligible due to injury,” which is all well and good…except judging by Suarez’s reaction, it appears nobody bothered to inform Suarez he was ineligible to play.

So when Suarez told Tabarez he was ready to help his country back from the jaws of elimination, Tabarez waved his finger Dikembe Mutombo-style at Suarez, causing him to unleash fury upon the substitute shelter.

*Insert monkey covering eyes emoji here*

There’s no way Suarez did all that work to come in if he was aware he couldn’t actually play. Moreover, there’s definitely no way Suarez reacts in that manner had he known Tabarez couldn’t legally bring him in.

The worst part about this is, what if he re-aggrivated his hamstring injury warming up because he didn’t know? Can you imagine the embarrassment? Can you imagine Barcelona’s anger? Maybe next time someone should bother to tell one of the best strikers in the world that he can’t actually play. That might avoid these egg-in-the-face moments.

Uruguay tabs Luis Suarez for October friendlies; Will he play?

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Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has selected Luis Suarez for next month’s friendlies, but will the manager use the controversial striker?

Suarez is eligible to play in friendlies because his eight-match international ban only covers competitive matches. He’ll have to sit out the Copa America Centernario in addition some 2018 World Cup qualifying matches, but is eligible for selection in Uruguay’s October matches against Saudi Arabia and Oman.

[ MORE: Suarez scores in Barca friendly | Faces fine with next bite ]

The 27-year-old striker cannot play for Barcelona in a competitive match until Oct. 24, so it would make sense for both the player and his club to get some reps against two sides who would love to knock off Uruguay.

But will Tabarez select the striker? Uruguay won both its September friendlies against Japan and South Korea without Suarez, and the October opponents are far less threatening than the pair of World Cup squads.

With Abel Hernandez (Hull City), Christian Stuani and Edinson Cavani, Tabarez has players with experience to call on if needed, while youngsters Diego Rolan and Jonathan Rodriguez could certainly use time on the international pitch.

Ultimately, it’d be foolish to call up Suarez and not use him. There will be the “distraction” of his attendance, so he might as well have him add to his tally of 40 goals in 78 caps. Plus, it’s not like his team — let alone his country’s governmentfailed to support him after his biting of Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup started this disciplinary mess.

It’s not just Uruguay that’s upset about the Suárez ban

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And no, we’re not talking about Liverpool, either. It seems that all of Latin America is outraged over Luis Suárez’s punishment for biting Giorgio Chiellini – nine matches and four months, in case you’ve forgotten. At least, this is what Venezuela president Nicolás Maduro is claiming.

Venezuela’s president spoke about what he called Suárez’s “disproportionate” punishment, referring to the striker as belonging to “all” of South America. Maduro said:

No one denies some corrective measures were needed, but to suspend him for four months from football where he shines? To take him out of the World Cup? Latin America views this with outrage and we reject it totally.

One has to wonder if fellow South American side Colombia would agree with the Venezuelan president. After all, they’re scheduled to meet Uruguay today, in the first stage of the knockout round. Perhaps los cafeteros would have been satisfied with a mere one-match ban?

Maduro spoke about Suárez before the revelation of the defense he made to the disciplinary committee. In his appeal to FIFA, Suárez, writing in Spanish, insisted that he did not bite or intend to bite Chiellini, but rather that he lost his balance.

The Venezuela president believes a case was “invented” against Suárez because he eliminated “two of football’s big nations.” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabárez has accused FIFA of making the player a scapegoat. Others, such as Diego Maradona, have labeled the affair an “international conspiracy.” Now that Suárez has denied the bite ever took place, it’s likely we’ll see even more figures speaking out regarding his punishment.

FIFA, players union agree Suarez needs “treatment” while Uruguay backs its striker

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Both FIFA and the player’s union FIFPro have released separate statements claiming Luis Suarez needs help, albeit in a pair of different manners.

The football governing body, via secretary general Jerome Valcke, said Suarez’s bite incident of Giorgio Chiellini was “unacceptable.”

“I think he should find a way to stop doing it – he should go through a treatment,” Valcke said.

Valcke’s never been known for his suave nature or eloquent English.

FIFPro went about things a little more tactfully, releasing a statement saying, “Luis Suarez should receive all the support he needs to deal with any off-field issues he may be experiencing at this time,” the union said, adding that “treatment must be a part of any sanction,” indicating FIFA was in charge of making sure Suarez receives the help he needs.

The Uruguayan striker was suspended for nine international matches plus four months of all football-related activities following the incident with Chiellini, his third biting incident on the field.

Meanwhile, the Uruguayan team has rallied around Suarez, blaming just about everyone on planet Earth aside from the man who bit Chiellini.

Coach Oscar Tabarez resigned from the FIFA technical committee, claiming Suarez was being labeled an international “scapegoat” in a marathon 13-minute prepared speech.

“I had a position and I must leave that position. It was not was or prudent to be in an organization with people who exerted pressure and rendered the punishment, who managed criteria and values that are different to the ones I have.”

Tabarez continued Suarez’s attack of the English media, an opinion Suarez vehemently maintained after the incident with Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. “This decision is much more focused on the opinions of the media,” Tabarez said. “The media that attacked immediately after the match, and in the press conference, journalists only took that topic.”

Uruguay captain Diego Lugano agreed with his manager. “What incident?” Lugano asked in a press conference yesterday. “The footage doesn’t show anything, you can speculate from it but it’s nothing important. It appears that the English press keep coming back to this situation, I can’t find any other explanation, but I am happy with yesterday’s win.”

Uruguayan president took a more simplistic approach. “We didn’t choose him to be a philosopher, or a mechanic, or to have good manners – he’s a great player,” said Jose Mujica.

Eric Wynalda: Luis Suarez has the ‘mental capacity of a six year old’