Heading to their 14th World Cup tournament in the nation’s history, Uruguay are once again a World Cup dark horse. It’s what you’d expect of a country that has won the tournament in the past — La Celeste were champions in two of the first four World Cups held — and made a semifinal run in 2010.
But what matters most in Qatar is the talent that will be on the pitch. Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin are well past their 30s but will be hoping for one last magical run. That, too, could turn into a tournament that will feature the next generation of stars.
Federico Valverde, who was recently named the third best player in the world, and Liverpool shooting sensation Darwin Nunez are ready for the World Cup along with FC Barcelona defensive force Ronald Araujo if he recovers from injury in time. Bright MLS forward Facundo Torres could have a breakout tournament amid rumors of European interest.
La Celeste always seem to find a way, including recent World Cup qualifiers when things looked dire and legendary manager Oscar Washington Tabarez was sacked. They finally did it and are one of the favorites to advance from Group H in Qatar. And if Uruguay and their signature fight and grit – known as Garra Charrua – make it to the knockouts, anything can happen.
Uruguay 26-man World Cup squad 2022
New manager Diego Alonso, who took the reins in January, announced a maximum 55-man expanded preliminary squad at the deadline on Friday, Oct. 21, when provisional squads of 35-55 players were due.
It’s from that list of 55 that he has selected the final roster for Qatar on November 10, electing to take the full 26 players allowed on a World Cup squad for 2022.
Injury doubts Ronald Araujo and Edinson Cavani both recover in time, while Facundo Torres, who plays with MLS side Orlando City, is selected to the list.
There was no room in midfield for Felipe Carballo despite his excellent play domestically for Nacional, while Espanyol captain Leandro Cabrera falls short of securing his first international cap.
Here’s a look at the final 26-man roster for Uruguay at the 2022 FIFA World Cup:
|Goalkeeper||Fernando Muslera||Galatasaray (TUR)||36||133|
|Goalkeeper||Sergio Rochet||Nacional (URU)||29||8|
|Goalkeeper||Sebastian Sosa||Independiente (ARG)||36||1|
|Defender||Ronald Araujo||Barcelona (ESP)||23||12|
|Defender||Martin Caceres||LA Galaxy (USA)||35||115|
|Defender||Sebastian Coates||Sporting CP (POR)||32||47|
|Defender||Jose Maria Gimenez||Atletico Madrid (ESP)||27||78|
|Defender||Diego Godin||Velez Sarsfield (ARG)||36||159|
|Defender||Mathias Olivera||Napoli (ITA)||24||8|
|Defender||Jose Luis Rodriguez||Nacional (URU)||25||9|
|Defender||Guillermo Varela||Flamengo (BRA)||29||9|
|Defender||Matias Vina||AS Roma (ITA)||24||26|
|Midfielder||Rodrigo Bentancur||Tottenham (ENG)||25||51|
|Midfielder||Nicolas De La Cruz||River Plate (ARG)||25||17|
|Midfielder||Facundo Pellistri||Manchester United (ENG)||20||7|
|Midfielder||Lucas Torreira||Galatasaray (TUR)||26||40|
|Midfielder||Manuel Ugarte||Sporting CP (POR)||21||6|
|Midfielder||Federico Valverde||Real Madrid (ESP)||24||44|
|Midfielder||Matias Vecino||Lazio (ITA)||31||62|
|Forward||Agustin Canobbio||Athletico Paranaense (BRA)||24||3|
|Forward||Edinson Cavani||Valencia (ESP)||35||133|
|Forward||Giorgian De Arrascaeta||Flamengo (BRA)||28||40|
|Forward||Maxi Gomez||Trabzonspor (TUR)||26||27|
|Forward||Darwin Nunez||Liverpool (ENG)||23||13|
|Forward||Luis Suarez||Nacional (URU)||35||134|
|Forward||Facundo Torres||Orlando City (USA)||22||10|
Uruguay national team stars, strengths & weaknesses
Uruguayan players have consistently proven to possess the ideal mix of skill, fight, physicality and tactical nous, making them one of the most competitive sides in world football despite a relatively smaller population of nearly 3.5 million. It’s the reason why the country’s players are some of the most sought-after talents in the world.
It’s those qualities that will once again make them a difficult out in Qatar.
While it’s tempting to go back to the well and cite the bigger names of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, the truth is that the heartbeat of this team is a 24-year-old who plays for Real Madrid.
Federico Valverde is having himself a sensational season in 2022/23, and that’s after finishing strong in 2021/22 with the game-winning assist in the Champions League final. He is a player who has shown he can leave a mark on a match and carry his team in big moments.
It’s scary to think what Valverde might be able to accomplish with more games playing behind Liverpool 23-year-old striker Darwin Nunez, who can find goals out of nothing.
When fit, Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo (below) is a similar unstoppable force on the field. He’s a strong one-on-one defender and even stronger in the air when attacking and defending. But he underwent groin surgery in September and is in a race against time to be fit again.
Team defense — In nine international matches under Alonso, Uruguay have only conceded two goals, one each to Venezuela and Iran.
The defending starts from the front and it’s supported by a tenacious central midfield featuring Lazio’s Matias Vecino or Tottenham’s Rodrigo Bentancur alongside Valverde.
Then at the back, stalwart center-backs Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Sebastian Coates (Sporting CP), and veterans Martin Caceres (LA Galaxy) and Diego Godin (Velez Sarsfield) continue to prove dependable as well as Araujo (Barcelona) who has proven fit to join the squad.
Uruguay also boast a loaded midfield, which includes European stars Rodrigo Betancur (Tottenham), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid), Matias Vecino (Lazio), and Lucas Torreira (Galatasaray).
If Araujo is not well enough by the opening match, it could prove a major blow. He often plays at right-back for Uruguay, and the cover in that position will be offered by the experienced Damian Suarez (Getafe) and Guillermo Varela (Flamengo).
Luis Suarez, heading into his fourth World Cup, has been plying his trade back in his native Uruguay in recent months and it’s tough to know what to expect of him in Qatar. If the 35-year-old is not up to snuff as Nunez’s forward partner, is Alonso ready to bench the captain and most recognizable face on the team?
Uruguay World Cup group
Based on FIFA’s world rankings and international pedigree, No. 14 Uruguay are expected to be one of the top two teams to get out of Group H.
The pressure will be on to win the opener against South Korea (Nov. 24), though the second matchday against Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo could be the most favorable stylistic matchup for Uruguay.
Given their history at past World Cups, the last thing Uruguay wants is a Ghana side that has something to play for in the group finale. Revenge will still be on the minds of the Black Stars after the infamous Suarez hand ball on the goal line in 2010, which prevented them from reaching the quarterfinals.
World Cup Group H fixtures and match schedule
|Thurs, Nov. 24||Uruguay vs. South Korea||8 a.m.||Education City Stadium|
|Thurs, Nov. 24||Portugal vs. Ghana||11 a.m.||Stadium 974|
|Mon, Nov. 28||South Korea vs. Ghana||8 a.m.||Education City Stadium|
|Mon, Nov. 28||Portugal vs. Uruguay||2 p.m.||Lusail Stadium|
|Fri, Dec. 2||South Korea vs. Portugal||10 a.m.||Education City Stadium|
|Fri, Dec. 2||Ghana vs. Uruguay||10 a.m.||Al Janoub Stadium|
Uruguay vs. South Korea squad, lineup
Against a South Korean side that can run all day, Uruguay will need just the right mix of workrate and quality to overcome the Asian side.
From a tactical standpoint, Diego Alonso has tried a mix of formations in his short time on the job, and although the 4-4-2 has worked well, the 3-5-2 could also be an option here, giving La Celeste the chance to field all three of Matias Vecino, Federico Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur against South Korea’s packed five-man midfield.
Uruguay projected starting XI vs South Korea
DFs: Araujo — Coates — Gimenez — Olivera
MFs: Valverde — Bentancur — Vecino
FWs: Nunez — L. Suarez — F. Torres