thumbnail Hello,

With the Confederations Cup around the corner, Goal analyses the systems of each side. In this edition, Brendon Netto takes a look at Uruguay...

 Brendon Netto
 Analysis | International
Follow on

Uruguay are currently struggling to qualify for the 2014 World Cup despite being spared the task of competing with the host nation Brazil for a spot. Although the Confederations Cup is a distraction from more pressing matters, it may well be a welcomed one for them as they've always shone in knock-out competitions.

They enter the tournament as the reigning champions of South America and having been drawn in the relatively weaker Group B, this competition may be the tonic they need. It presents an opportunity for them to restore some confidence before they make a final dash to secure a place in the showpiece event in twelve months time.

Coach and System

Oscar Tabarez  is into his second spell as coach of Uruguay and has the distinction of leading them to a fourth place finish in the 2010 World Cup and then to victory in the 2011 Copa America. However, things haven't gone according to plan in their bid to qualify for next summer's World Cup. The manager is known to be a methodical tactician with a ruthless selection policy.

Coaching record –
  Games Wins Draws Losses Win %
1st Spell
34 17 8 9 50.00
2nd Spell
90 41 27 22 45.56

If there's one manager in the international circuit you wouldn't want to second guess, it's Tabarez. He uses a variety of formations and deploys his players in several positions. He's employed 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 and 4-3-3 formations with no particular pattern. Players like Maxi Pereira, Alvaro Periera and Cristian Rodriguez can play at full-back in one game and then as a winger in the next. Similarly, central midfielders Nicolas Lodeiro and Alvaro Gonzalez have both been played on the right flank on the odd occasion.

Tabarez has struggled to accommodate the attacking talents of Suarez, Forlan and Cavani in the same system. The last time the trio were on the pitch together was last September. Suarez is seemingly indispensable thanks to his goals and creativity while Forlan operates in a deeper role, using his intelligence and guile to create chances and link midfield to attack.

What this means is that Cavani, who is currently valued at over €50 million by Napoli and scored 104 goals for them in 138 appearances, invariably misses out. Tabarez briefly tried to use all three strikers in a 4-3-3 system but it proved ineffective.

The coach favours a 4-4-1-1 formation most of the time with Forlan operating behind Suarez. Lodiero and Gonzalez bring a good balance to central midfield with the former the more creative of the two and the latter the more withdrawn.

Diego Lugano and Diego Godin make for a formidable central defensive pair while who plays down the flanks is always up for debate. The wingers provide width in attack, are tasked with supplying the strikers and are required to track back and help their full-backs in defense. Against the better sides, Tabarez adopts a counter-attacking approach.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths: When the two strikers up front click, they can be very difficult to live it. Suarez and Cavani have rarely worked well in tandem but the combination of the Liverpool man and Forlan has been fruitful. The option of bringing on a striker of Cavani's calibre late in the game is a great weapon to have in your arsenal. The partnership of Godin and Lugano in defense is a formidable one as well. Furthermore, Uruguay seem to thrive in knockout competitions.

Weaknesses: The squad that won the last Copa America has aged and now boasts eight players over the age of 30. Some of them are past their prime and have lost the mobility they had two years ago while replacements have been hard to come by. The inability to use Suarez, Forlan and Cavani in an effective system simultaneously has cost the team.

Star man: Luis Suarez

The chances of Luis Suarez going missing in a game are pretty slim. He's a player and a character that just can't be kept out of the limelight. He will always come looking for the ball and even if he's not having a particularly good game, he's capable of that one moment of magic or madness and one way of the other, he usually grabs the headlines.

The striker has always been an exceptional dribbler. He can run circles around defenders and is particularly good at wriggling his way out of tight spaces, especially in the penalty box. However, this season, he's proved that he has a lot more to his game in terms of his creative ability and form in front goal. In fact, he's now just one goal away from equaling Diego Forlan's all-time goal-scoring record.

Uruguay seems to have missed the Forlan of a couple of years ago who was an inspirational leader for them and a catalyst in attack. Although still a regular in the team, he isn't indispensable. This season, Suarez has shown signs that he may be ready to pick up the mantle and be the leader and saviour his national team need just like he has been for Liverpool.

What do you make of Uruguay's chances? Send in your thoughts in the comments below or discuss with the writer on Twitter @BrendonNetto.

 How do you stay up with football when on the move? With –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.