Jun 2, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Getting to know… Uruguay: The two-time champions (1930, 1950) are salivating at the thought of a South American World Cup despite facing a very dangerous group. Loaded at forward and midfield, Uruguay has an experienced squad that won the Copa America in 2011. After missing three of four tournaments between 1994-2006, La Celeste rebounded to finish fourth in 2010. With names like Forlan, Suarez, Cavani, Pereira and Godin, you know this team better than you think.
Record in qualifying: Finished fifth in CONMEBOL, beneath Ecuador on goal differential. Needed a win over Jordan in the playoff to get into the World Cup.
What group are they in? Group D with Costa Rica, England and Italy.
Game schedule: Group D
14 June, 16:00, Fortaleza – Uruguay vs. Costa Rica
19 June, 16:00, Sao Paolo – Uruguay vs. England
24 June, 13:00, Natal– Italy vs. Uruguay
Star player: Luis Suarez
Perhaps you’ve heard of him? The devastating and controversial striker had a red-hot club season for Liverpool but will be coming off surgery thanks to a tackle from Newcastle’s Paul Dummett.
But call off the death threats, Uruguayan faithful; Suarez says he’ll be ready to bring the danger to the World Cup pitch on schedule. Already a World Cup “hero,” Suarez can take the next step in restoring his image with another strong tournament.
Manager: Oscar Tabarez
Tabarez, 67, is in his second stint managing Uruguay after a 16-year cap between 1990 and 2006. The former AC Milan, Cagliari and Boca Juniors boss has won 47 percent of his matches during this spell at the helm and can claim the Copa America 2011 title.
Secret weapon: Attacking Diegos on defense
Kinda cheating to call them a secret, as captain Diego Lugano and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin have been on Uruguayan scene for a while, but the two defenders are capable of providing plenty of spark. Look out for both Diegos on set pieces. Then there’s the less secret Diego, Forlan, bringing attacking thunder.
Prediction: Uruguay beats Costa Rica in the opener and England in the second match, setting up a potential battle for the group against Italy, where it slides into second place in Group D.
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