Uruguay’s last breath was a sad metaphor of their own

The great question for Uruguay was how to maintain their game model without Edison Cavani. As we talked about here, Uruguay’s strength is based on their duos’ work: Godin & Gimenez at the back and Suarez & Cavani at the front. Throughout the World Cup, there was no midfield build-up play star man or ideas that pushed the team to work the ball from the middle.

Tabarez likes the long balls. It was always like that, and there’s no difference in this 2018 team. Well, Cavani had important work as forward, sometimes building deep position in the six yard box, other times opening the field creating chances and giving assistance.

Against France, Cristhian Stuani, a 31 year old forward from Girona FC, was responsible for replacing the PSG star man, and replicating all his actions on the pitch. That would be a burden for any player, but especially for an ordinary forward with no great international background.

Looking at his Twelve dashboard, Stuani scored -14 points in 58 minutes played. A really terrible performance by a player who is expected to be a great part of the scene. A lot of errors and a poor job with the ball made Stuani’s performance forgettable.

A game shorn of the drama that has defined much of the tournament was defined by two almost identical moments shortly before halftime.

First, the French defender Varane stole ahead of Vecino before beating Stuani to the ball to head it beyond Muslera, who could not get near the ball as it sped into the goal. Five minutes later, Spurs’ goalkeeper Hugo Lloris produced a world-class save to keep out Martín Cáceres’s header, which seemed destined to creep into the bottom corner of the net.

Lloris’s performance for France stood in contrast to that of Muslera, who even before his mistake looked vulnerable, failing to deal with crosses into the box that on another occasion French forwards would probably have pounced on.

Muslera scored the unbelievable number of -268 points, a sad performance by Galatasaray’s goalkeeper.

Missing Suárez & The wise words of Tabarez

“Only those that don’t do anything, don’t make mistakes,” Tabárez said in comments typical of his long tenure, in which he has stood by his players even when they have erred. “I told all my players after the match that they can be very proud, keep their heads high. I don’t have anything bad to say against them.”

Tabárez declined to reveal what he said to Muslera, choosing instead to describe him as a vital element in a multiyear process that has allowed Uruguay to return to the top ranks of world football.

“El Maestro” (The Teacher) will return to Uruguay as a record breaker. No other coach has overseen more World Cup games. Whether that run is now over, and the fruits of more than a decade of hard work — Tabárez oversees all elements of Uruguay’s football program — will be left to someone else remains unknown. Tabárez said it was not the time to talk about his future.

And the presence of Barcelona’s forward Luis Suarez remains as a good souvenir for all Charruas’s fans. Even though he didn’t have a memorable match against France, Suarez will always represent the true Uruguayan life style. He is real for them, because he is just like them.

First with Stuani and after with Cebolla Rodriguez, Suarez had no partner to give Lloris and France’s defence some occupation. Football is not a single sport, where you can decide all on your own. There’s some “little help from your friends” needed, and as Suarez has not been in Liverpool for a while, he was all by himself in attack.

A really committed job from him with 1,019 points in 95 minutes played, at an average of 10.7 points per minute. Not good and not bad at the same time. A lot of good work on defence and reasonable work with the ball. But no shots at all.

And “El Pistolero” (The Shooter) without shots is a sad metaphor of Uruguay’s last breath in the competition.

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