by Humberto Grondona
I’ve been lucky enough to have had many links with Uruguayan football over the years. When I was working with Carlos Bilardo back in the 1980s I had an inside view of the matches with Argentina, and in the 90s I worked at Nacional. It’s a fantastic country. It might be small in size but in footballing terms it’s a giant.
I remember the 1986 team, which played against our Argentina team in the Round of 16. They were a very technical side with some talented players and they almost forced a draw in that game in Mexico. There are quite a few differences between that team and this one though. The current side has the same mystique, although the men who make the difference are [Fernando] Muslera, one of the best keepers in the competition, and the superb strike force made up of [Diego] Forlan and [Luis] Suarez. The rest of the team is extremely well organised and solid, and I think the run they’ve had is just reward for their togetherness.
Some people have said that Uruguay have been lucky but I don’t agree with that. Luck plays a part, of course it does, but only about ten per cent. Are you telling me that Spain weren’t lucky when Paraguay missed a penalty in the quarter-finals? Uruguay found their place in the tournament, got through a tough first phase and came out with a good draw in the knockout rounds. They played a great game against the Netherlands and only lost because they were up against one of the best two sides in the World Cup. We shouldn’t forget that they were the very last side to quality for the finals and yet they still managed to reach the last four. That’s amazing.
I hope this campaign provides a springboard that allows their football to bounce back strong. The resources are there and Uruguay are experts in bringing talented players through. Uruguayan footballers are gifted and good team players, and they are technically proficient and tactically astute with it. If they can reap what this team has sown, then I’m sure we’ll see their teams fighting hard in the continent’s top competitions again. I certainly hope so anyway.