Synopsis: Uruguay beats USA 0-2 in World Cup to advance to semifinals against Israel (Sports1)
Ofir Haim is a top candidate for the title of outstanding coach of the current World Cup, and on Thursday he will meet his leading competitor. Uruguay's Marcelo Broly has proven himself to be an exceptional tactical expert, who not only puts an organized team that advocates exemplary pressure on opponents' ball carriers and knows what to do when they earn the ball themselves, with very fast transitions from defense to attack. The young blues also show flexibility in formations and player positions, and Broly makes surprising changes during games. He deals creatively with the injuries and suspensions that force him to make adjustments, and Uruguay is a cohesive and very efficient team in any lineup and in any conditions.
This distinguishes it favorably from Brazil, which Israel beat in the quarterfinals. Seleção may have a very promising squad of stars, some of whom have accumulated extensive experience in the senior teams of prestigious clubs in their homeland and are valued at tens of millions of euros, but in the tournament in Argentina they showed glimmers of genius and lack of discipline, and their defensive quartet was severely damaged by the absence of two key players who were suspended. Uruguay is less brilliant, but far more determined and stable, in the best tradition of football in a country of just 3.5 million people.
Broly is a well-known title builder who is highly regarded by the media and the FA – the fact is that he was appointed interim coach of the first team at the beginning of the year, until Marcelo Bielsa was recruited. As coach of Peñarol's youth team, Uruguay's biggest club alongside Nacional, he won the national under-19 championship two years ago, then led the under-20 team to the Copa Libertadores title last year. After being appointed to the under-20 team, he stormed the Copa America last February, and Uruguay reached the final, where they conceded two late goals against Brazil and lost 2-0.
Contractor of degrees. Broly (Photo by Getty Images, Marcio Machado)
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In the semi-finals of the World Cup, sweet revenge was planned, but Uruguay naturally received with great satisfaction the elimination of their strong rival by Israel. They also enjoyed watching European champions England, who beat them in the group stage, eliminated in the eighth final by Italy. Uruguay now feel they have a great opportunity to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup for the first time in their history, and the desire to do so knows no bounds. It is no coincidence that the Blue team provided their best game of the tournament against the strong United States in the quarterfinals, leaving their opponent no chance with a 0-2 tie.
The critical first goal against the Americans was scored in the classic Uruguayan style - snatching a ball and a perfect exit of several players for the breakout. Central striker Anderson Duarte was the only one on the U.S. side of the pitch when the Blues won the ball, but quickly received a pass, unleashed Juan de los Santos on the left wing with one spectacular touch and positioned himself well wide to finish off this perfect team operation. De los Santos, who possessed dizzying speed and excellent understanding of the game on the left wing, also "cooked" the second goal scored by American defender Joshua Winder.
These two heroes were not even in the lineup at the start of the tournament, which is a testament to the depth of Uruguay's squad and Broly's ability to use it wisely – a trait that is also very characteristic of the Israeli national team, where many players contribute throughout the World Cup.
Anderson Duarte, who unsurprisingly admires Luis Suárez and is somewhat reminiscent of him in his style, only took a place in the line-up in the final eight. Even then, he scored the winning goal in a 0-1 win over Gambia with an excellent kick from distance that highlighted just how versatile his skills are. He mainly benefited from Real Madrid's puzzling decision not to release central striker Alvaro Rodríguez, who starred in the Copa America with 5 goals, for the World Cup, as well as the injury of Andres Ferrari. However, this is a great talent in his own right, who was marked as a child prodigy at the age of 4, moved from his town to the boarding school of Defensor Sporting at the age of 11, and was given many opportunities in the senior squad last season.
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In Suarez's shoes. Anderson Duarte (Photo by Getty Images, Marcio Machado)
The player who has received the most minutes and experience in the Uruguayan first division is midfield leader and captain Fabricio Diaz, who is considered a potential superstar. He is a tough fighter who burns areas and tackles anything that moves, but also knows how to steer attacks and is endowed with excellent dedication to any range. Dias is the heart and soul of Uruguay, as well as Liverpool Montevideo, where he managed more than 100 matches, but he is too tough even by Uruguay's standards, accumulating a commercial amount of yellow and red cards throughout his short career. It is particularly surprising, then, that he has not entered the register of any referee in the World Cup so far – and an important task for Israel in the semi-finals will be to try to make him lose his temper. On the other hand, he is always difficult to look after, and Dias is also capable of functioning in a number of other positions in addition to being a classic central midfielder, including on both wings.
Dias may move to Barcelona this summer and could become one of the most prominent players of his generation not only in Uruguay, but in South America and around the world. Meanwhile, unlike Brazil, only two players in Uruguay's current squad have made the journey to the Old Continent - without much success at this stage. Defender Facundo González moved to Spain at a young age, but for now he is stuck in Valencia's reserve team. Left-back Alain Maturo was sold earlier this year from Defensor Sporting to Genoa for €3 million, but has been involved only twice since then in the Italian second division by coach Alberto Gilardino.
It can be assumed that the performances at the World Cup will upgrade their status, as well as that of other squad members. Bielsa has already signaled how much he appreciates the current squad and Broly's work, unexpectedly calling up 7 players from the under-20 squad for next week's friendly against Nicaragua and Cuba. These are Fabricio Dias and Anderson Duarte, as well as goalkeeper Randal Rodriguez, defenders Facundo González and Sebastian Boselli, right-back Mateo Fonte who will be absent on Thursday, and versatile striker Luciano Rodríguez, who was sent off against Gambia and will continue to serve his sentence against Israel.
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Building on the young. Bielsa (Photo by Getty Images, Ian MacNicol)
"Bielsa informed me in advance before the squad was published. I told the players and prepared them a bit. We have a strong cohesion in the national team, and a real alliance between the players. Everyone is proud of those summoned and very happy for them. For me, too, it is a source of pride, and we will continue to work hard to achieve our goals and nurture the future of the Uruguay national team," Broly said. And maybe the Argentine maestro made the move mainly declaratively, but it certainly contributes to the motivation of the young team, which was already very high.
The Brazilian national team's breaking threshold was relatively low, because it expected an easy trip against Israel in the quarterfinals. Uruguay, which was itself considered the underdog against the United States, cannot make this mistake, so in a certain sense Ofir Haim's challenge in the semi-finals is even higher. The balance of power in terms of natural talent may be more even-handed, but Israel has no mental advantage, and tactical superiority will also be much more difficult to produce. The success against Broly's gang will therefore be no less impressive. And for the avoidance of doubt, this is also a feasible task.
- World Football
- Uruguay national under-20 team