It was not a great match.
Uruguay and South Korea locked horns for Group H’s first match, and it was a dull affair. Well done if you managed to sit through it all.
Uruguay lined up with a strong midfield of Matias Vecino, Rodrigo Bentancur and Federico Valverde but lacked pace and width. Starting Martin Caceres at right back in a 4-3-3 formation hardly screams “adventurous.” Luis Suarez, and his second half replacement Edison Cavani, were anonymous. Darwin Núñez managed a meagre 55% pass completion rate with his final touch reaching, at times, comical levels.
Clearly, Uruguay lack quality at the wings. Left back Matias Olivera looked menacing a couple of times in the first half but was toothless in the second half, being replaced by Matias Vina in the 79th minute.
Disappointing performance from Uruguay’s “old guard”
The only real chances Uruguay had come during the end of both halves. Diego Godin headed the ball against post from a set-piece in the first half while Federico Valverde thumped the woodwork from 25 yards out after some individual brilliance.
Uruguay just could not string enough passes together. Bentancur looked more menacing in the more advanced role he took in the second half. Putting the class of Valverde and Bentancur and close as possible to the strikers is probably the way forward.
Darwin Núñez did have an admittedly poor game but his partnership with Suarex or Cavani just did not look right. At this stage of their careers, Suarez and Cavani are more useful as impact substitutes. Diego Alonse needs to be courageous and let the younger generation of Valverde, Darwin and Maxi Gomez to roam freer to create and convert chances.
The current Uruguay squad lacks width. Their back four is rigid but proved to be extremely effective for most parts of the game against the Koreans. Having a more fluid attack with young players interchanging positions may make up for these deficiencies.
Diego Alonso has a call to make. Experience, old heads and rigidity? Or fluidity, freshness and uncertainty?
Photo credit: IMAGO / Agencia MexSport
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