Football World Cup – The little country Uruguay that could wonder if it still can

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Luis Suarez inwards first. And in the normal run of things, for a city like Salto.

A sleepy residence tucked into a distant corner of a tiny country that would have been its claim to fame: making one of the finest protesters of a generation.

Except that, precisely three weeks advanced, a second inwards.

Edinson Cavani produced up only a few roads from Suarez.

The interest that the two players would, for more than a period.

Help turn Uruguay’s national squad into one of the greatest potent in the world were born in such a quick series.

In such nearness, lends their origin section a faintly fantastical gleam.

Lightning, after all, is not fictional to attack twice. If it textures like a sheer accident, the sort of thing that could not — would not — occur again.

That is not fairly how they see it in Salto, Uruguay. It is accidental, of course, but it is not fair accidental, said Fabián Coito, a longtime youth trainer in Uruguay.

There are a lot of football squads in Salto. Kids play from a young age, in inexpensive leagues. It is industrial and agricultural.

It is the sort of place where that kind of thing is more probable to occur.

That is the story Uruguay, more approximately, has told itself for a certain time, and the way the country clarifies its outsize role in global football.

Its position as a two-time Football World Cup champion, in 1930 and 1950.

Yet even by those values, the past period or so has been approximate of a golden age.

Obdurate protection, built about the strong Diego Godin and completed by a diamond-bladed attack, including Suarez and Cavani, has twisted Uruguay into by some events arguably football’s most reliably successful state in South America.

The last three FIFA World Cups have carried a semifinal, a quarterfinal, and a place in the last 16, a better presentation than Argentina, and the equivalent of Brazil.

There has been a Copa America title thrown in, too.

Uruguay has completed it all with a populace of only 3 million. This is a place where fast strikes more often than power is predictable.

Slowly, suddenly, though, a gumshoe is tiptoeing into Uruguay’s residence in the sun.

Its last two Football World Cup qualifiers, against Argentina and Brazil, carried heavy losses, and a return match beside Argentina on Friday in Montevideo and a visit to Bolivia on Tuesday offer little respite.

Uruguay sits fifth in South American qualifying incoming those games, at risk of missing an involuntary qualification promotion for Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022, and at danger of falling away from the care net of a playoff spot.

For the first time, the trainer who has overseen Uruguay’s renewal on the international stage Oscar Washington Tabárez, 74, his drive but not, he has maintained, his ability now limited by Guillain-Barré syndrome has appeared vulnerable.

There are those, in Uruguay, who trust his day has passed.

For many, the very impression limits on the unthinkable, anywhere between anathema and heresy.

Suarez is optional that it showed how ruined people — fans, journalists, managers, possibly even players had been by victory.

One of his teammates, the soaring central protector José Maria Jiménez, bemoaned that football has no reminiscence.

Even Diego Forlán, the striker now discharged into a role as an adored elder statesman, seemed injured. It would pain me, he said after the team’s two most new losses, if it ended like this.

It did not end, of course, or at the smallest, it did not end then. As a result of the loss to Brazil, Tabárez and his helpers were bid to the headquarters of Uruguay’s football federation.

For two hours, they begged their case managers. The federation’s leaders decided to sleep on the choice; the next morning, they established that Tabárez would continue in place.

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It had the air, though, of a blow delayed, rather than evaded.

Tabárez may be reassured of his location at the end of the year, to give his spare time to make for the final stage of qualification in Football World Cup 2022, or instant Uruguay fails to make it to Qatar.

If the country qualifies, he will leave, at the total latest, when its contribution to the Football World Cup is over.

Nobody is actually oratory if Tabárez’s cycle has come to an end. They are simply deliberating when.

It is not fair to the manager, though, who is in that place.

Time passes, Coito said remorsefully. Many of the experts of South Africa counting Forlán, the player of the competition in 2010, and Diego Lugano, the captain have been discharged.

Those who continue are in the fall of their vocations. Godin, the grizzled emotion of the protection, is 35. So is Fernando Muslera, the talented, erratic goalkeeper.

Suarez is 34, and Cavani only three weeks earlier.

Qatar will spot the end of its roads, too, one way or the other.

As that bookend looms on the horizon, Uruguay has been involuntary to challenge a question it has had the good wealth to ignore for more than a decade:

What does life after the golden age look like? Of course, there is a bit of accident in having three pickets of the top-level Suarez, Cavani, and Forlán in the same squad, said Tito Sierra, a manager, aptitude scout, and investor in numerous Uruguayan squads.

But we have done this each period. There is always additional talent.

His hopefulness is rooted in history. When the premium player Uruguay has shaped, Enzo Frances coli, faded, he was substituted by the likes of Ruben Sosa and Daniel Fonseca.

When their time passed, sideways came the magnetic brutality of Paolo Montero and the lambent brilliance of Álvaro Recoba.

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Suarez, Cavani, Godin, and the break are not the conclusions to a process, but just another chapter in Uruguay’s autobiography, its floor as a place that is not topic to random accidental, the place where the lightning saves striking.

Others, though, are not fairly so self-assured. For some, that is simply grateful for what this group has achieved.

The bar is very high, said German Brunati, sporting manager of Montevideo City Torque, the South American stamp of City Football Group, the group behind Manchester City and New York City FC.

Substituting players who have spent 15 years at the top level in Europe is not successful to be easy.

For others, though, anxiety is more innate. Forlán, for one, has made public his fear that the country, festering in self-assurance, is not doing sufficient to shape on the legacy of Tabárez and his squad.

We have a very rich history, but the world goes one method, and we go another, he said.

I compare 10-year-old children here with 10-year-olds in Europe, and they don’t come close.

The instant evidence proposes Forlán’s vision is a little apocalyptic.

Uruguay has qualified for each under-20 Football World Cup since 2005, a best that not even Argentina and Brazil can match.

And we have not just been at the competitions, said Coito, who was in the custody of the country’s squad in two editions.

We have animated them, receiving to a final, to the semifinals.

Many of those new players are now flourishing in Europe.

Beyond his core of experts, Tabárez — when his selections are not incomplete by injury — can call on the enjoys of Ronald Araujo.

A protector developing as a star at Barcelona Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde, and Juventus’ elegant Rodrigo Betancourt.

The last, at age 24, is the eldest of those three. Jimenez, long smeared as Godin’s heir, is only 26.

There are hopes that Darwin Nunez, currently with Benfica, and Valencia’s Maxi Gómez might show to be long-term substitutes for Suarez and Cavani.

Clearly, they are not at that level yet, said Brunati. A lot will be contingent on their mentality, but the raw material is there.

Nor, he is self-assured, will they be alone. Brunati does not unavoidably promise to the idea of some inborn, mystical advantage to Uruguayan football.

What they call Garra charrúa, an unconquerable fighting soul — but there are conditions, he said, that work in the country’s courtesy.

Every year, there is a migration of players, he said.

You can make more playing not only in Brazil and Argentina but Peru and Ecuador, too.

And those places are then occupied by more young players.

Player’s strengths leave here demanding to recover their technique or their strategic knowledge, but they have knowledge of struggle.

And that is something that is wanted everywhere.

Coito, one afternoon this week, was in Montevideo, Uruguay’s principal, watching babyfútbol.

The players he is casting his judgment done are 5 or 6.

These are just two squads, in one park, in one city.

There are thousands more transversely in the country.

There may not be a Suarez or a Cavani between them, but they will be out there, anywhere, another pin from the blue.

The players will come, he said. They might be dissimilar, but there are continuously additional players.


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