Long known for their defensive qualities, Uruguay are in the process of adopting a more adventurous style without sacrificing their spirit of sacrifice and wholehearted commitment.
The driving force behind this change in image, the current Charrúa crop are determined to be seen in a different light to their predecessors, unveiling a dynamic and compelling brand of football at South Africa 2010. Comfortable in possession and threatening up front, the Uruguayans are persuading the watching world to view them in a new light.
Goals and style
The shift in focus is no accident, as Edinson Cavani, one-third of the three-man forward line that put the Bafana Bafana to the sword in Tshwane/Pretoria, tells FIFA.com: “We’ve spoken about it a lot. We want to play a more attacking, more intelligent and faster game. This is a team that likes to go on the offensive.”
Even the men at the back are fully committed to a more expansive approach, among them team captain Diego Lugano: “We’ve made a conscious effort to change things. You could say we want to modernise our game. For many years we were known for our garra [grit and commitment] and now we are looking to add other qualities to our game.”
Yet as Lugano goes on to explain, the traditional hallmarks of Uruguayan football remain an intrinsic part of their make-up: “We’ll never lose that grit and commitment. It’s in our blood and it’s all related to who we are as a nation. You can’t buy it at the supermarket or at the shops. What we’re doing now is adding other values to it.”
No more homesick blues
What made Uruguay’s resounding win in Wednesday’s night game all the more commendable was the fact that they did it by silencing an excitable crowd urging on the home favourites. The perfect environment, then, for them to display their team spirit, as Lugano says: “We are a lot better under pressure. Like I said it’s in our blood and Uruguayan players always react best in the toughest of situations.”
As pleased as he was with the three points, the skipper does not believe La Celeste are in the Round of 16 yet. “The game against Mexico will be totally different,” he says. “They are an extremely strong side and to go through they’ll need to come out and attack. It would be a mistake if we get too confident. We’ll be looking for the win but we also know a draw will do.”
Fellow defender Jorge Fucile is also keeping his eyes firmly fixed on Uruguay’s immediate goals: “We can’t get too carried away,” he warns. “We scored three goals this time but that doesn’t mean to say we’ll always do that. We should celebrate this victory and then move on. The aim is to get through and until we do that there’s no question of us relaxing.”