A few months ago, neither central midfielder Egidio Arevalo nor forward Edinson Cavani appeared to have a strong case for a starting berth in Uruguay's side at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Indeed, a glance at the teams put out by coach Oscar Tabarez in the latter stages of South American Zone qualifying underlines how much catching up the pair have had to do.
It is to their credit that the pair have caught up, knuckling down quietly and proving their worth to 'El Maestro' Tabarez. Cavani, for his part, spent La Celeste's opener against France on the bench but was in the starting XI for his country's second Group A encounter. Despite not finding the net so far, the rangy Palermo link-man has kept his place alongside fellow front-runners Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez – scorers of five of Uruguay's six goals to date.
Playing his part
"Great teams are made up of creative players as well those who have to defend. I've had periods in my career when I've shone and others, like now, when I've had to work very hard. So I'm grateful to those players who are scoring goals because they're winning us games," the 23-year-old told FIFA.com. "Of course I’d like to score but my game's not just about that. I'm a forward player but I also drop deep to help out the team," added Cavani, who has already played 269 minutes in three appearances at South Africa 2010 compared to the 166 minutes spanning seven qualifying games. "I think that the coach is happy with how I'm playing. The goals will come."
Arevalo has also come on in leaps and bounds since a qualifying phase where he featured for just 44 minutes of one game. The Penarol midfielder is the only domestic-based player in the Uruguay squad to have played in every minute of Las Charrúas' South African campaign, while he has won back more balls (44) and made more successful passes (123) than any of his countrymen.
"I know exactly what my role is in this team: close down the opposition, win the ball back and give it to the front-men. There's a time to knock the ball around and there's a time to get stuck in," the 28-year-old told FIFA.com. "Besides, both [Diego] 'El Ruso' Perez and I want the forwards to relax in the knowledge that we've got their backs covered. That's because they're the ones who can turn the game in our favour.
"The team stays calm, we don't get desperate and when we crank things up a notch we're capable of scoring goals," continued Arevalo when asked about his team's strengths. Cavani came to a similar verdict, saying: "There's no secret formula to us. We're simply very dangerous going forward and we stick together and defend very well as a unit."
In the forward’s opinion, Uruguay have "come good on the promise we've shown since the start of qualifying. We had to swim against the tide and we were the last team to book their place at the World Cup, but now we're in the last eight. It's a dream come true but we've still got to be able to handle it properly." Arevalo added: "We're pleased to have achieved something which is so important for us as individuals as well as for the team as a whole, though what we've done still hasn't sunk in yet. We're in the last eight and we're in with a chance of going all the way. Our fate's in our hands."