Uruguay: We Are the ChampionsBy: Juan Mesa
Uruguay will have to defend the Copa América title without its biggest star. Barcelona’s Luis Suárez is still serving his nine-game punishment for biting Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup.
But the Charrúas have history on their side: they are the most dominant team in the history of the tournament with 15 championships.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: Luis Suárez will be missed, but keep an eye on Edinson Cavani. The Paris Saint-Germain striker is simply one of the best players in the world, and one who can do it all: accurate long-distance shots, air play, fast sprinting, good positioning and passing in the midfield, and sacrifice in defensive situations.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: Uruguay’s defense might be a hard hurdle to break through, but goalie Fernando Muslera has been a liability in recent years. Another question mark lies in the role of the attacking midfielder: will highly praised 21-year-old Giorgian De Arrascaeta be able to set up goal-scoring plays to Cavani on his own?
COPA AMÉRICA CHANCES: Group B seems tough on paper with Argentina and Paraguay in it, but a debut against Jamaica means an almost certain winning start for the Charrúas. A roster made up of players who are succeeding in the most important leagues of the planet, and a group that has a clear identity on the field after nine years under the management of Óscar Tabárez may well mean another title for Uruguay.
FUN FACT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The historic Celeste (light blue) jersey is a tribute to extinct River Plate FC, the first Uruguayan club to beat Alumni, a famous Argentine team in the early 20th century. River Plate’s home colors were red and white, but when they were away playing against Alumni, they decided to play with the light blue instead. Officials honored their victory by making the light-blue jersey the first uniform for the national team. The four stars in the team’s badge represent their two World Cup titles (1930 and 1950) and two Olympic gold medals (1924 and 1928).
IF THEY WERE A MOVIE, IT WOULD BE: Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai: these guys are ready to die on the field if needed.