France will square off against Uruguay in their first World Cup match on Friday, and with a formidable duo up front, a new tactical approach and a renewed sense of vigour, “La Celeste” could well prove to be big trouble for Les Bleus in Group A.
“Since May 24, all we think about is France,” declared Uruguay football coach Oscar Tabarez at his team’s first World Cup press conference, added that the squad was ready to do whatever was necessary to upset the European favourites.
Despite playing in just one warm-up match before the World Cup—a 4-1 victory against Israel—“La Celeste”, as the Uruguayan squad is dubbed, seems to be on the right footing for their opener in South Africa on 11 June.
Tabarez is clear about his first objective for the international contest: beat France in their Group A match-up. “We will put on our best fight, it is very important to us,” the coach insisted.
The other two teams in Group A are Mexico and host-country South Africa.
At their last meeting in the 2002 World Cup, Uruguay and France drew 0-0. But this year's La Celeste is not the same side that Les Bleus faced in Pusan, South Korea.
Uruguay has experienced a tactical revolution with the arrival of Tabarez. Once known for its ultra-defensive strategy—considered heretical among South American clubs—Uruguay now enjoys a more dynamic approach that takes advantage of each player's individual talents.
The changes have proven effective so far. La Celeste boasts a solid defence, a well organized midfield, and a formidable attack capacity when the team can switch on its offense.
The attack duo formed by Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) and Luis Suarez (Ajax Amsterdam) has become the team’s major asset. Forlan is known for his speed, relentlessness and efficiency while Suarez, who is being courted by several major European clubs, is notoriously difficult to contain.
Together, Forlan and Suarez have scored 73 goals for their respective clubs this season, a fact French defenders will surely have been briefed on before Friday's clash.
A return to glory?
La Celeste fell into oblivion after capturing two world titles in 1930 and 1950, with the notable exception of a semi-final appearance at the Mexico World Cup in 1970.
And despite the presence of star players, its qualification for South Africa was laborious and an insult to its real potential; qualification finally hinged on a play-off duel against Costa Rica.
"We must go to the World Cup with high expectations because we have players in major championships, who play against the world’s best teams,” insisted Oscar Tabarez.
Date created : 2010-06-08