ERNESTO ORTIZ GOMES / AIPS – MONTEVIDEO: Uruguay bade farewell to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, having clearly improved on its performance from Brazil 2014.
In Russia, they finished sixth – a top level performance – and the only South American team along with Brazil to make it to this point – after three fourth place finishes in 1954, 1970 and 2010 and the titles of 1930 and 1950.
In addition, the team are currently at the second best level of appearances at World Cups.
Uruguay’s defeat in the quarterfinals in Russia, well justified by the quality and pace of their rivals, France, was also triggered by the expectation from the team and its fans, that dared to dream of the rewarding joy it would have produced, to stay until the end in Russia and lift the trophy they silently think of as theirs.
The French team headed by 1998 World Champion Didier Deschamps, faced the game without much trouble – a game that would be ultimately defined by the fact that while Uruguay fought, France played.
In addition, the French enjoyed the benefit of some errors of the Uruguayan team which generally, become the most obvious explanation to the defeat.
There are several things to analyze with regard to this Uruguayan team, which can now look to the future by reviewing the recent past and going beyond the defeat against France, which sent the team home.
There is no doubt that in Russia coach Oscar Washington Tabarez managed to find his best team, switching around pieces of relocated pieces of his initial format that started the tournament.
In this, he found a better formula, which brought the team’s best performance against Portugal, with individual and collective high-level displays. This could be seen not only throughout the match, but also due to the top level of the rival, the European champions, who were looking to finally advance beyond the quarterfinals.
The football played by the national team plays has gone through different stages according to levels of urgency on the pitch. But, in general, it has been essentially defensive, conservative and with little generation of football.
Uruguay defend well, recover possession, but have trouble putting together their own attacks and the coach preferred good defence and has tended to shy away from using players with natural ability.
Tabarez’s manual is to minimize the virtues of the opponent based on a good defence – which is understandable – when applied in games against opponents with superior qualities to this Uruguayan team but this is not necessarily and approach that should should be used against all rivals.
The strategy of conservative football has been a constant in “La Seleccion” in these 12 years.
That is why, while highlighting all the good things done, it is possible to capitalise on the positive while continuing to explore the eventuality of renewing the technical staff of the Uruguayan national team.
Uruguay now face a moment of change. This change should not forget or bury what has been done well, but, it seems possible that a new concept can be found- one that can transform part of the team’s football identity and use its assets in the best possible way — because there is so much positivity to work with.
The Copa America is very close and preparation for the journey towards the 2022 World Cup in Qatar begins soon.