Uruguay's World Cup predictions
After four years of waiting, the time has come. Another World Cup is here, and our bloggers across all 32 competing countries have each predicted the fate that awaits their team. The country's Outlook gives a general view of its situation ahead of the tournament, while Pitfalls takes a look at any potential problems. Each blogger will also predict the top scorer and breakout star and suggest how far that nation can go.
Despite the huge amounts of faith and expectation placed on Uruguay, the team's form is unpredictable. La Celeste have had their best games when in desperate need of points, but things change when they face big rivals. If Uruguay can tighten up in defence and create chances for their fine strikers, things will be more promising. However, concerns remain about a lack of concentration that could cost them against sharper attacks. In the recent friendly games, we have seen a determined team lacking ideas from time to time. Although the preparation has been encouraging, the "Luis Suarez factor" -- whether he will be fit to play -- will be vital in determining their real chances.
All 32 team previews and predictions
Brazil | Cameroon | Croatia | Mexico
Australia | Netherlands | Chile | Spain
Colombia | Greece | Ivory Coast | Japan
Costa Rica | England | Italy | Uruguay
Ecuador | France | Honduras | Switzerland
Argentina | Bosnia | Iran | Nigeria
Germany | Ghana | Portugal | USA
Algeria | Belgium | Russia | South Korea
It would be naive to ignore Suarez's injury as Uruguay's biggest problem. Although they aren't the only team whose biggest star suffered an injury right before the Cup, the role Suarez plays in La Celeste is irreplaceable. Coach Oscar Tabarez will have to change his strategy to include whoever takes the Liverpool forward's place -- Diego Forlan, Christian Stuani or Abel Hernandez. Without Suarez, Uruguay lack half of their "killer instinct," though Edinson Cavani remains.
The main issue for Uruguay at the tournament will be whether they can crack defensive lines and make room for their forwards to score. Offensive midfielders have not excelled at this task recently, as Uruguay have gotten used to playing quick counterattack football but show signs of getting nervous when they need to be the ones who control the ball.
With Suarez in good shape, he would be the obvious answer. However, as the uncertainty over his recovery continues, Cavani's name stands out to become Uruguay's top scorer at the 2014 World Cup. His recent evolution has been extraordinary, as Cavani has become one of the most dangerous men in front of goal, scoring 21 times for Uruguay so far. He was the runner-up as top scorer in Ligue 1 this season behind teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Many big teams in Europe reportedly want to sign him, but for now the focus is this competition. Cavani, at the "peak" age of 27, is equally deadly with both feet, quick and tall. He has a fantastic aerial game, never gives up on a ball and can score from anywhere on the field. Adding this all up, Uruguay have an unbelievably talented forward. What is the only problem? He's missing his strike partner.
One of Tabarez's greatest discoveries in this last part of his coaching process has been Stuani. Spanish side Espanyol's forward has been the latest breakthrough in La Celeste, scoring four goals in 10 matches, starting in only four. With outstanding athletic ability and great positioning, Stuani is a winger capable of leaving rivals behind with his speed and scoring goals with a superior heading ability. It wouldn't be a surprise if he starts on the right side of the midfield if Gaston Ramirez's performance doesn't improve. Currently, Stuani is the No. 1 substitute in Tabarez's plans and is likely to be Uruguay's surprise for this World Cup, like Cavani was in 2010.
Uruguay need to perform at their best to qualify from Group D. If they are able to achieve that, they will then play against a strong team like Colombia, Japan or Ivory Coast in the first knockout phase. Assuming that they make it through, it's likely that Brazil or Spain will face La Celeste in the quarterfinals. If we take as reference the matches played against these teams in the Confederations Cup, Uruguay's chances are not looking good. If we include that Suarez's presence has a question mark over it, confidence wanes. Still, a final position among the best eight teams and exiting the tournament at the hands of one of the major candidates would be a respectable achievement.