Ian Darke leads the ESPN panel in predicting the 2018 World Cup winner with names of Germany, Brazil, France and England among the list.
ESPN FC’s Craig Burley does not feel Russia will emerge from Group A that also contains Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Uruguay.
The 2018 World Cup is just over a month away and all 32 teams are preparing in earnest for their shot at the trophy in Russia. ESPN FC is previewing every team ahead of the opening game on June 14. Find all 32 teams here.
Who they are
Captain: Diego Godin
Manager: Oscar Tabarez
Nickname: La Celeste
FIFA Rank (as of April 12, 2018): 17
How they qualified
Uruguay finished second in the CONMEBOL qualifiers and had a great tournament despite Luis Suarez’ absence from their first four matches and Edinson Cavani’s absence in the first two.
Uruguay’s defensive intensity and ability to capitalize on the moments in which they manage to dominate their opponents have been their main virtues. They can rely on the strength of their backs, Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez, who play together at Atletico Madrid. Uruguay’s squad has also been revamped up the middle with young and intense players and have a devastating attack featuring one of the world’s best duos in Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
Suarez leads a potent attack for Uruguay along with Cavani. The pair will wreak havoc in Russia.
The overhaul in the middle has changed their play and the friendlies available to put this into practice have been limited. The intensity of the team is another point of concern. If Uruguay don’t play to the maximum, they become vulnerable.
Suarez, Godin and Cavani are the stars of the team. The defender holds the last line together while the forwards make up a fearsome offensive pair. One of them shines at Barcelona, the other one at PSG, and they complement each other wonderfully. Suarez has scored 50 goals in 97 matches and Cavani has scored 42 in 100. They both lead the national team in scoring.
What the local media says
“The media believes in this team. Since Tabarez took them on, they have improved their efficiency as the competition has progressed. They are in a group that is relatively easy for them and after that, the knockout stages, instances where Uruguay feel comfortable, will begin.” — Diego Munoz
What the stats say
Uruguay will get to Russia with an interesting mixture of experience and youth. Godin, Caceres, Suarez and Cavani are in excellent shape and they can count on sufficient depth in midfield. Winning the group will be key in order to start dreaming about the semifinals.