So, Uruguay start their quest for the 16th Copa América title with a loss. No reason to get too worried, though. Fast starts are not an Uruguay thing anyway. In fact, Uruguay make it a habit to start slowly as they only won once in their last four Copa América openers. However, this bad record didn’t stop La Celeste from making it to the semi-finals in three of those last four Copa’s. So again, don’t be too worried.

Before setting our sights on the two remaining group games, we reflect on the Mexico loss.

Even without Suárez, Uruguay can compete with the best.

Mexico – coached by Juan Carlos Osorio – is arguably the most in-form team in international football at the moment. This form, they showed in the first half with some real fluid moves and good organized high pressing. But after the break, Uruguay managed to turn the game around and despite being a man down they were the better team for big parts of the second half.

Okay, Oscar Tabárez’ men eventually lost the game, but that was just a case of having the luck against you. Rafa Márquez took advantage of a corner that wasn’t dealt with by Uruguay – which is rare with Giménez and Godín in the centre of defence – and fired El Tri in the lead. The third goal was a result of going ‘all or nothing’ to chase the equalizer. The second half performance has to encourage the La Celeste fans though as Uruguay defended their sky blue colours with pride and had one of the Copa América favourites on their knees. Without Suárez.

Cavani mex

Uruguay is not prolific enough in the absence of Suárez. 

Uruguay might have coped fairly well with the absence of El Pistolero, his finishing ability was surely missed. The man who claimed the Trofeo Pichichi award and the Golden Boot last season was probably scratching the back of his head when he saw Diego Rolán’s miss right at the hour-mark. It was a chance that should have been taken and with Suárez behind the ball that’s normally a given.

To bring back the sharpness in front of goal, a quick recovery of Suárez is very important. Certainly in the knock-out stages, taking your chances will be proven pivotal as it makes the difference between advancing and elimination.

sUAREZ BENCH

Arévalo Ríos, still going strong.

I didn’t want to reflect on individual performances, but Arévalo Rios gave me no chance. At 34 years, the pit bull of Uruguay has shown he can still be of great use for his nation. Besides his well-known aggressive and clinical defending, Arévalo – currently playing on loan at Atlas in Mexico – didn’t put a foot wrong offensively. Some direct passing by Cacha even set up some dangerous moves. Before the tournament, there were some doubts about Arévalo’s fitness as he looked a bit overweight. Be that as it may, it doesn’t look to influence his game. The former Peñarol man looks every bit as sharp as in his heyday.

Arevalo

Written by David Kraakman.