To start with, World Cup qualification was much less complicated than it has been in previous times, with La Celeste finishing second behind Brazil in the Conmebol qualifying section as opposed to requiring a playoff as had been the case in 2009 and 2013. The injection of fresh young talent to complement the old guard has gone well so far, and if Uruguay is not significantly more exciting than it was in the past, at least it is no weaker than it was in 2014.
How they play:
The DNA of La Celeste is aggression that sometimes crosses the line into cynicism. Often pragmatic Uruguay averaged just 40% possession during the qualifiers but a transition to younger, more nimble-footed midfielders appears like it will force a switch to a more proactive style.
Uruguay has a fine balance of very good players from back to front, with a solid centre back pairing and potent front two sandwiching a decent midfield.
Uruguay for all its talent, is still a Luis Suarez team. All it usually takes for it to go from good to laughable is the withdrawal of Luis Suarez.
Luis Suarez is four years older since Brazil 2014, so the hope is that he is wiser, because he has the ability to hurt the opponent’s team, and the lunacy to hurt his own team.
One to watch:
Inter Milan’s Matias Vecino is one of the new additions to Uruguay’s midfield that you should look out for.
As if the Uruguayans didn’t already have a blend of quality and experience to call on, a favourable group draw left them in a position where it is easier to succeed than to fail at the preliminaries. That the spine of the team remains intact is a plus, and if the new generation continues to gel with the old guard, they are capable of beating anyone on their day.