In just two months one of the greatest tournaments to grace the world of football is set to take place, The World Cup. When thinking about the World Cup everyone has their favorites, but there’s always a general consensus when it comes to a couple of teams, for example, Germany, Brazil, France and Spain. These are some of the teams that everyone can agree are likely to get far in the competition, if not win it all. But what about all the other teams who are likely to put up a good fight against these “favorites”, possibly knocking them out? One of the teams I’d like to point out is the Uruguayan National Team.
A national team that has managed to accomplish all of international soccer’s greatest feats and remain a powerful and relevant force since winning the first ever edition of the World Cup in 1930. Most recently they are known for reaching the semi-finals in the 2010 World Cup after an amazing campaign, and winning the Copa America in 2011, a very important trophy for all CONMEBOL teams, a competition in which Uruguay holds the record for most wins, 15.
In total, they have won 2 World Cups, 15 Copa Americas, and 2 Olympic gold medals, a pretty impressive cabinet for a team that comes from a nation with a population of only a little over 3 million people. After all the success the national team has attained it’s hard to imagine that people still perceive them as “underdogs”, but the reality is people do have this perception of them. Even though the team is viewed this way by some, it can only serve as an advantage to the team. This doubt fuels the team to want to impress and succeed while proving their critics wrong.
What makes this team from a small nation such a strong force in the world of football time and time again? It’s the way football is lived in Uruguay. Football is not a pass time for Uruguayans, it is a way of life. I don’t believe anyone lives football like Uruguayans do. Every loss, every win is felt by the entire nation. Uruguayan author and journalist, Eduardo Galeano, described this phenomenon perfectly, “Every time the Uruguayan national team plays a game, whoever it may be against, the country stops breathing. Politicians, singers and chatterboxes shut their mouths, lovers halt their loving, and flies stop flying.” When a player cries, the whole nation cries, when a player scores a goal, the whole nation celebrates.
Football is what put Uruguay on the map, brought it out from the shadows of giants and made it relevant. Eduardo Galeano, also puts this beautifully, “We are no longer that small point on the map of the world. The sky-blue jersey was proof that our nation existed, that Uruguay wasn’t a mistake, football had removed this minuscule country from the shadows of the anonymous universe.” Uruguayans know this and the players representing the team feel this more than anyone. They live for the badge, play for the badge, and bleed for the badge. The patriotism felt by Uruguayans, including the players of the national team, is the reason why it has and continues to be successful in the biggest stages of international football.
Can Uruguay dream with attaining glory at the World Cup this year in Russia? Absolutely. The national team has all the tools necessary to achieve this; two of the best strikers in the world, Suarez and Cavani, who are currently living their best moments at their respective clubs, Football Club Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, a rejuvenated and promising midfield offering the perfect pivot between attack and defense, and the support of 3 million Uruguayans who will be sleeping, breathing, and living this World Cup alongside the players. After finishing second in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers and seeing the teams’ latest performance in international friendlies, the possibility of a win is feasible. The Uruguayan national team is definitely a force that everyone should keep an eye on or they might just go and win it all. Vamos arriba la Celeste!