A Bluffer's Guide to ... Uruguay

We give you a few tidbits on Ireland’s opposition so that you won’t be stuck for something intelligent to say in the pub tomorrow evening.

Chris Hughton in action the last time the sides met in Lansdowne Road in 1986.
Chris Hughton in action the last time the sides met in Lansdowne Road in 1986.
Image: © INPHO/Billy Stickland

FOR THE THIRD time in the space of twelve months, the Republic of Ireland welcome South American opposition to these shores for a friendly. Paraguay and Argentina have been and gone – now it is the turn of Uruguay, a team who saw their popularity among footballing neutrals skyrocket following an impressive World Cup showing in South Africa.

Just in case you’re struggling to remember anything else about tomorrow’s visitors, here’s the skinny …

Have we met before?

Yes, yes we have – but it was while ago so you can be forgiven if you don’t remember.

The first time the two nations squared off was back in May 1974 when manager John Giles brought his band of merry men to Montevideo where they were beaten 2-0.

The sides would not meet again until the beginning of the Charlton era. Big Jack’s second game in charge of the boys in green was a 1-1 draw at home to a Uruguay side managed by controversial coach Omar Borras.

How have they been doing recently?

Unless you’ve been living under a football-repellent rock, you probably know that Uruguay were the surprise package of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They topped their group ahead of Mexico and France, dispatching South Korea and Ghana in the knockout stages before finally crashing out to Holland in a cracking semi-final which they lost 3-2.

Since then, they’ve had a handful of friendlies as they prepare for the Copa America which kicks off on July 1 in Argentina. They haven’t beaten anybody of any real note, however, losing their most recent games against Chile and Estonia 2-0.

Are they just going to play a reserve side tomorrow?

That’s hard to say, especially in light of the fact that they had a game against Estonia on Friday evening.

They have called up a full-strength panel, however, including the likes of Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid), Edinson Cavani (Napoli), Diego Perez (Bologna) and Diego Lugano (Fenerbahce). Basically, if your name’s Diego, you’re in.

One player who won’t be present is Liverpool’s new recruit, cannibal and executor of questionable goal-line tactics Luis Suarez. He was originally part of the 25-man squad but withdrew after picking up a slight groin strain during Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Sunderland.

Who’s the gaffer?

You don’t get a nickname like “El Maestro” (“The Teacher”) without having been around the block a bit, and 64-year-old Oscar Tabarez has certainly earned his stripes. Over the course of a thirty-year managerial career, he’s managed clubs in Uruguay and Argentina as well as spending a five-year period in Italy in the mid-1990s.

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

Following the country’s disappointing World Cup qualification campaign in 2006, Tabarez returned to the national team for a second spell at the helm. During his previous stint, the man with the midas touch had led the country to the last 16 of Italia ’90 before taking a club job with Boca Juniors.

Who’s the one to watch?

Diego Forlan. The Atletico Madrid striker needs only three more goals to overtake World Cup winner Hector Scarone as the country’s leading scorer of all-time, breaking a record which has stood for over eighty years.

Though Forlan disappointed slightly during his time at Old Trafford from 2001-2005, he has been resurgent since, scoring 155 goals at club level in the seven seasons since his departure from England. The 31-year-old was rightly recognised as the player of the 2010 World Cup, beating off illustrious oppostion such as Spain’s Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

They Say …

“I am not used to such cold weather.”

- Coach Oscar Tabarez, following Friday’s friendly against Estonia during which temperatures dropped below zero. He’ll welcome the nice bit of sun we’ve been having of late so.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

Read next: