Uruguay kick off their Qatar 2022 World Cup campaign with an intriguing looking clash against a South Korea side led by Tottenham Hotspur attacker Son Heung-min. The two countries have been drawn together in Group H alongside Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and Ghana. The tournament is likely to be the last World Cup for legendry strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez, who will both turn 36 at the start of next year.
With two of the world’s deadliest strikers at their disposal, as well as top-level central defenders in the shape of Diego Godín, José Giménez and Martín Cáceres, two-time winners Uruguay were regularly thought of as dark horses to win the last few editions of the competition, with their best finish in recent years coming in 2010, when they were beaten in the semi-finals and finished fourth.
Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani both turn 26 at the start of 2023Getty Images
With much of the focus ahead of the 2022 tournament being on South American rivals Brazil and Argentina, there has been much less hype around La Celeste this time around, although they appear to have an excellent blend of youth and experience, with thirtysomethings Cáceres, Godín, Cavani and Suárez now supported by exciting younger talents such as Ronald Araújo, Rodrigo Bentancur and Fede Valverde, who have been around for a while but are now beginning to reach their peak. Add into the mix Liverpool striker Darwin Nuñez, who has netted nine times in 18 matches for the Reds since making a $102 million move to Anfield, and they have the ingredients to spring a surprise.
Barcelona concern over fitness of Ronald Araújo
There has been plenty of controversy surrounding the inclusion on the roster of Araújo, with the Barcelona defender having been out of action since having an operation on his thigh at the end of September. The Catalans are worried that their player has been pushed too hard in his attempt to be fit for the World Cup and their eyebrows will likely be raised should he feature against South Korea. With that in mind, Giménez, Godín and Cáceres will battle it out with Sebastián Coates for a starting jersey in central defence.
El Tornado continues to hide his cards, according to Ovación.
Diego Alonso is testing various names for the starting eleven vs. South Korea. No one in the Uruguay delegation, nor the players know the XI in the World Cup opener. pic.twitter.com/R6KnmLgXSh
— Warriors of Uruguay (@UruguayanHeroes) November 23, 2022
Head coach Diego Alonso is expected to have a full roster to choose from otherwise and looks likely to favour Liverpool striker Darwin Nuñez in attack over veteran forward Cavani. Alonso has regularly switched between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 systems during his time in charge and could switch things up from one game to the next.
Possible Uruguay XI vs South Korea
Sergio Rochet; Guillermo Varela, José Giménez, Sebastián Coates, Mathias Oliveira; Fede Valverde, Matías Vecino, Rodrigo Bentancur, Nicolás de la Cruz; Luis Suárez, Darwin Nuñez.