How they qualified
Buoyed by their fourth place finish at South Africa 2010 and their Copa America triumph a year later, La Celeste went into the South American qualifying competition for Brazil 2014 as firm favourites to progress. Their plans went awry in 2012, however, when they collected just two points out of a possible 18. The Uruguayans recovered their poise just in time, eventually edging into fifth and booking a place in the intercontinental play-offs for the fourth time in a row. Waiting for them there were Jordan, who were no match for Uruguay in the first leg in Amman, which ended in a 5-0 win for the visitors. Defending that lead comfortably in a goalless draw back in Montevideo, the Uruguayans made sure of their berth in Brazil.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Prior to the 1970s, when they began a lengthy period in the doldrums, Uruguay were widely regarded as one of the giants of world football. That status was founded on their two FIFA World Cup™ wins, the first of them coming at home in 1930 and the second in Brazil 20 years later, when they stunned the host nation with a shock 2-1 win at the Maracana, an epoch-defining game that will forever be known as El Maracanazo. Their run to the semi-finals at Mexico 1970 would be their last flourish for some considerable time, however.
In the years that followed the Uruguayans appeared only infrequently in the global showpiece. After failing to qualify for USA 1994 and France 1998, La Celeste made their return at Korea/Japan 2002 only to go out in the group phase and then lose out to Australia in the play-off for a place at Germany 2006.
Another play-off followed in the qualifiers for South Africa 2010, this time against Costa Rica and this time safely negotiated. In what was their 11th world finals, the Uruguayans brought back memories of yesteryear by surging to fourth place, with the inspirational Diego Forlan making off with the adidas Golden Ball as the tournament’s outstanding player.
The key players
Strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have become the standard bearers for Uruguayan football and the national team over the last couple of years. The Liverpool man ended the South American preliminaries as the leading scorer with 11 goals, and was the second most-used player by coach Oscar Tabarez. The deadly duo have plenty of ballast behind them, with the vastly experienced Diego Lugano directing rearguard operations with aplomb, and Fernando Muslera providing a safe pair of hands between the posts. Even so, after an often-troubled qualifying campaign El Maestro Tabarez will no doubt be looking to shuffle his pack and build up some momentum ahead of Brazil 2014.
Current coach: Oscar Washington Tabarez
Best performance in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Uruguay 1930 and Brazil 1950 (winners), Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Paris 1924, Amsterdam 1928 (winners), FIFA U-20 World Cup Malaysia 1997 (runners-up), FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2006 (runners-up), FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 (runners-up)
Former stars: Hector Scarone, Angel Romano, Obdulio Varela, Roque Maspoli, Alcides Ghiggia, Ladislao Mazurkiewicz, Pedro Rocha, Rodolfo Rodriguez, Hugo De Leon, Carlos Alberto Aguilera, Ruben Sosa, Enzo Francescoli, Alvaro Recoba