The Uruguay national football team, one of the pioneers of football, for the twelfth time takes place in the FIFA World Cup final tournament. In the not easy developing in CONMEBOL Qualification Uruguay took the second place, however, secured a berth at the final only in the last round.
Today, Uruguay is the most titled national team in South America. There are 15 victories in the Copa America in the portfolio of “The Sky Blue One”.
Uruguay is a two-time World Cup Champion conceding to only the Brazil, Germany and Italy national football teams, by number of titles. However, the key achievements of the Uruguayans fell on the early 20th century when football only began developing in many countries.
Uruguay became the hosts of the first FIFA World Cup in 1930. Only four European national teams participated in that tournament (then it was possible to reach South America from Europe only by sea). However, in the early century “The Sky Blue One” were deservedly considered as one of the strongest world teams with two victories at the Olympic Games. At the group stage Uruguay won two confident shutout victories over the Peru and Romania national football teams, and secured a berth at the semi-final. In the semi-final, the tournament hosts won a super-confident victory over Yugoslavia with score 6:1. In the final, Uruguay was facing a match with their basic opponent — the geographical neighbor Argentina. After the first half the guests were ahead 2:1, but in the second half the hosts managed to turn the match course and to win with score 4:2. Thus, Uruguay became the World Cup Champion in football for the first time ever. The forward Jose Pedro became the best team player in the tournament.
The second participation in the World Cup became triumphal for Uruguay again. Having missed, for economic reasons, the World Cups in Mexico and France, the Uruguay national football team participated in the 1950 FIFA World Cup Brazil. At the group stage Uruguay played only one game (because France pulled out from the tournament, only two teams left in Group 4) in which destroyed Bolivia with score 8:0. In the final group (in 1950 the World Cup winner was defined in the course of the round-robin between group winners) the tournament hosts were considered as the obvious favourite. The Brazilians confirmed their status of favourite in the first two matches where they beat Spain and Sweden with overall score 13:2. In the last game of the World Cup winner was defined in the Uruguay — Brazil match. To win the tournament the hosts only needed not to lose; Uruguay must have got only a victory. And they achieved! After the first half the hosts were ahead, however, like 20 years ago, within the second half of the final Uruguay managed to turn the match course for their own benefit. Thanks to the goals of Ghiggia and Schiaffino Uruguay outplayed Brazil and became the two-time World Cup Champion! The Victory Day over Brazil (July 16) still is a national holiday in Uruguay, and later fans recognized Juan Alberto Schiaffino as the greatest Uruguayan football player of the 20th century.
Four years later Uruguay for the first time took part on the tournament held in Europe. Uruguay went to Switzerland as the current World Cup Champion. At the group stage “The Sky Blue One” had no problems in matches with Czechoslovakia and Scotland. In the quarterfinal the Uruguayans easily beat the football fathers the England national football team, 4:2. Problems started only in the semi-final. In the match against the Hungary, in the second half, Uruguay could win back two balls and transfer the game into added time. It seemed that within overtime the Latin Americans would press in the opponent, but the opposite happened — Sandor Kocsis scored two goals at the game end and kicked out Uruguay from the tournament drawing. “The Sky Blue One” couldn’t concentrate in the bronze medal match and got the second to the Austria national football team. Thus, two Uruguayans victories in the 1954 tournament were added with the fourth place.
16 years later Uruguay repeated their achievement of 1954 again and managed to reach the semi-final of the tournament in Mexico. First of all, faultless defensing play helped Uruguay to achieve success. In the first four matches the Uruguayans missed only one ball which allowed the team to leave the group and to outplay the USSR national football team in the quarterfinal. Uruguay lost in the semi-final to the future winners of the tournament — the Brazil national football team with score 1:3. And again, like 16 years ago, Uruguay couldn’t get bronze medals conceding in the match for the third place to the Germany.
Surprisingly, but the Uruguay national football team waited for their next good performance for 40 years. Throughout nine tournaments Uruguay couldn’t be qualified for the final tournament, or finished at the group stage, or left the round of last 16 (1986 and 1990). The result, put it mildly, is extremely unsuccessful for the two-time World Cup Champions. At last, in the last decade, a generation of football players capable to make serious gains appeared in Uruguay.
In the 2010World Cup Uruguay got into the same group with the tournament hosting team of the Republic of South Africa, France and Mexico. In the first round Uruguay got a point with France (draw 0:0), and in the second round they unexpectedly beat the tournament hosts — the South African national footbal team (score 3:0). In the last round the victory over the Mexico national team allowed to be qualified for the round of last 16 and to win the first place in the group. In the round of last 16 Uruguay met with the South Korea national football team — strong, but quite go-through opponent. The match was persistent, but thanks to Luis Suarez's double, Uruguay won and got into the quarterfinal.
In the quarterfinal, according to the table, Uruguay gets the Ghana national team — another strong opponent, but not conjurers because they lost their leader Michael Essien before the World Cup. The match again, like the match in the round of last 16, was held in equal careful fight, but the outcome turned out very dramatic. The regulation time came to the end in draw 1:1. At the end of added time Luis Suarez, saving their net from an inevitable goal, kicked out the ball by hands from the empty net and was sent off, and Ghana acquired the right to take a penalty. However, the Ghanaian footballer didn’t use a chance and kicked into the crossbar. In the penalty shootouts Uruguay was stronger. Forty years later Uruguay got through into the four strongest teams of the world again.
In the semi-final Uruguay faced a meeting with the Netherlands which a round earlier kicked out from drawing the main favourite — the Brazil national football team. “The Sky Blue One” fought against the Dutchmen as equal, but, nevertheless, got the second to them in the beautiful match, 2:3. With the same score Uruguay lost also the match for the third place. Excellent defensing play of the team, like 50 years ago, and the team interaction became the main success factors of the Uruguayans. The team attacking line gathered strong footballers capable to solve the moment individually.
Will the Uruguay national football team be able to repeat their 8-year-old success in Russia? Why not? Uruguay is still one of the most balanced national teams of South America. Oscar Tabarez has been heading the national team for over 10 years, therefore the players perfectly know what their coach expects of them. The goalkeeper Fernando Muslera is the key goalkeeper of Galatasaray (Turkish), the defensive line of Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez, Maxi Pereira, Sebastian Coates perform in the leading clubs of Europe, and the forwards of the national team Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez are ones of the strongest forwards in the world.