In these final FIFA dates earlier than the World Cup squads are introduced, a lot of the coaches are merely ticking over, having fun with the prospect to get the group collectively and fringe choices, with the fundamental plan for Qatar already effectively established.
This must be very true of the South People. Because the center of 2019 they’ve performed two variations of the Copa America plus eighteen rounds of World Cup qualifiers — greater than sufficient aggressive video games to whip their workforce into form. That’s actually true of Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador.
But it surely doesn’t apply to Uruguay. Diego Alonso was solely appointed as coach on the finish of final 12 months. He nonetheless has loads of arduous work to do and loads of huge choices to take, which makes Uruguay’s friendlies towards Iran and Canada among the many most attention-grabbing encounters of the subsequent few days.
Alonso was introduced in after the tip of the epic 15-year reign of Oscar Washington Tabarez, underneath whose calm steerage Uruguay returned to soccer’s prime desk. In hindsight, it might need been higher had Tabaez stepped down after Russia 2018. However it’s simple to grasp why he was seduced into staying.
The street to Qatar would coincide with the footballing maturity of the brand new, brilliant midfielders — Federico Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur — and it will even be a final hurrah for the veteran pillars of his facet — the likes of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin, plus Fernando Muslera and Martin Caceres. On paper it appeared great. On the pitch there have been issues.
The important thing query — one which flummoxed Tabarez and now confronts Alonso — is the right way to get the stability proper. How most of the veterans could be fielded collectively?
Tabarez by no means discovered a solution, and was additional undone by a mixture of accidents and a merciless run of fixtures. Uruguay appeared effectively on target for Qatar till they needed to play Argentina house and away, and Brazil away, plus the dreaded journey to the intense altitude of La Paz to face Bolivia. 4 defeats, three of them heavy, pressured a change.
The fixtures had been kinder to Alonso, who sealed Uruguay’s World Cup place with wins over Paraguay, Venezuela and Peru. The group opponents in Qatar — South Korea, Portugal and Ghana — will show way more difficult.
Alonso is effectively conscious that the workforce that he chosen to qualify for the World Cup might be totally different from the facet he sends out within the match. The subsequent few days ought to make these variations clearer in his thoughts.
Uruguay’s captain, chief and centre-back, Godin, is clearly in decline, and has run into bodily issues which have dominated him out of this month’s video games. Earlier this 12 months Alonso made positive that Godin was well-protected on the sector. However does he even have to be chosen?
Barcelona‘s Ronald Araujo could possibly be moved from proper again to his extra pure centre-back place. A partnership of Araujo with Jose Maria Gimenez appears attention-grabbing. Gimenez has needed to pull out of those video games with an damage, giving Alonso the prospect to provide loads of defensive duty to Araujo because the senior centre-back in these two matches. If match, Godin will certainly go to the World Cup. However maybe as substitute fairly than first alternative.
And who will play in aim? Muslera was injured at the beginning of the 12 months, and the home-based Sergio Rochet stepped in. He’s a reliable goalkeeper. However there’s a stiffness about him meaning he won’t ever be world class. Will Muslera be recalled, or does Alonso maintain religion with Rochet?
On the different finish of the sector, Cavani has been overlooked of this squad. He’s being given time to regain match health at Valencia, and can absolutely go to the World Cup. However in what capability? There’s a rising recognition that Uruguay can now not area Cavani and Suarez collectively — one among them wants to attend on the bench.
However what about Darwin Nunez? Can he play alongside one of many veterans? Or are Uruguay higher off abandoning 4-4-2? There’s a feeling that Uruguay’s midfielders — in all probability the perfect half of the present facet — operate higher with one other system, one which permits them to have three within the centre of the pitch, plus a flying winger to stretch the opposing defence.
With two months to go to the large kick off, Uruguay have some critical choices to take — not nearly personnel but additionally relating to the form and the general concept of the facet. Heat-up video games towards Iran and Canada have seldom been so essential.