After one group game, Uruguay find themselves in a place where they quite familiar with; desperate for points. However, as history has proven, Oscar Tabárez’ men can cope with the pressure just fine as his teams always seem to find a way to progress. For that to happen again, the next game vs. Venezuela on Thursday night is vital.
Can the comeback kings do it again?
As Uruguay began their Copa campaign with a loss vs. Mexico, Venezuela started off with a win over Jamaica (1-0). It put La Vinotinto in a comfortable second spot in group C, and a win vs. Uruguay would see them qualify for the last eight. That will be a hard ask though as La Celeste is historically strong in bouncing back from defeats. Let’s take the World Cup of 2014 for example. After losing their opening game vs. Costa Rica (1-3), Uruguay needed a win in their next game vs. England. In arguably one of the best matches of the World Cup, a half-injured Luis Suárez guided his nation to the victory.
Next to Suárez’ goals, that game symbolizes what Uruguay are all about. The fighting spirit – Garra Charrúa – shown on that day was eventually what got them the win. From a 19-year old Josema Giménez who neutralized a big striker as Daniël Sturridge to Álvaro Pereira who didn’t want to be substituted after losing his conscience for a short period of time. It’s moments like these where Uruguay separate themselves from any other nation. The determination and passion they bring when wearing the sky blue of Uruguay is unmatchable. So with or without Suárez, the fifteen-time Copa América champions will be up for it.
As it stands, Uruguay haven’t lost a single competitive game vs. Venezuela with El Maestro in charge, who was appointed as Uruguay manager in 2006. Venezuela isn’t particularly an easy opponent for Uruguay though as three of their last four meetings ended up in a draw. The most recent showdown between the sides did go Uruguay’s way, and the circumstances for that game have a lot of similarities with the upcoming fixture.
Back then (June 2013), Uruguay were in a fierce race with Venezuela and Ecuador for two remaining CONMEBOL tickets for the World Cup of 2014. Therefore, this game was a must-win for both nations. Just like on Thursday night, Uruguay were without Suárez and in need of a result. Oscar Tabárez did what he does best; construct a game plan to dismantle his opponent, but still keep it tight at the back. A first half goal by Cavani turned out to be the winner as Uruguay kept their clean sheet. The upcoming game may require a game plan very much alike the one in June of 2013.
Lastly, one quick statistic to get the La Celeste fans hopeful for tonight; Uruguay only lost their second game in a Copa América once since 1959(!).