Copa America preview: Can Uruguay finally strike right balance behind Suarez and Cavani?


As far as strike partnerships in international football are concerned, you’d be hard pressed to find one better than Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani for Uruguay.


Only Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi (67) has scored more international goals than Suarez (56) of players present at this summer’s Copa America, while Cavani has also scored 46 times for Uruguay.  


Not only are Uruguay blessed with goals in attack, but they arguably also have one of the best defensive partnerships in international football in Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez.


On paper, at least, Uruguay have had a team capable of going deep in recent major tournaments, but not since winning the Copa America in 2011 have they fulfilled their potential.


Diego Forlan was the talismanic figure of the Uruguay national team eight years ago, scoring twice in a 3-0 win over Paraguay in the final. Since then, however, Uruguay have struggled to rediscover the same verve.


Their shortcomings in recent major tournaments illustrate just how important a good midfield is to the success of a team. It’s the weakest point of Uruguay’s current squad and they are yet to find the right personnel and shape to get the best out of Suarez and Cavani. The latter, for example, has failed to score a goal in the Copa America in 10 appearances over three tournaments.


At the 2018 World Cup, Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez even went to the extremes of playing defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez on the left wing and Bentancur, who is naturally a sitting midfielder, as the playmaker behind Suarez and Cavani. It made Uruguay more compact but not easy on the eye by any stretch of the imagination.


Copa America preview: Can Uruguay finally strike right balance behind Suarez and Cavani?


Heading into this summer’s tournament, however, Uruguay found the back of the net regularly. Tabarez’s side have won all three matches played in 2019 by a combined scoreline of 10-0, though those three friendlies were against Uzbekistan, Thailand and Panama.


In this time, Tabarez dropped Bentancur back to his deep-lying position and played naturally creative players out wide in Nicolas Lodeiro and Nahitan Nandez. Curiously, however, neither Suarez nor Cavani started any of those games and they went with only one striker in two of those matches.


With both now available, you can only imagine both will return to the starting XI, with the likes of Maxi Gomez and Cristhian Stuani dropped back to the bench. Whether that is the right course of action remains to be seen but it’s hard to imagine Tabarez doing anything different.


It will therefore be up to the Uruguay manager of 13 years to pick a team with the right balance to get the best out of both strikers or risk crashing out of the competition in the group stages for the second Copa America in succession.

Copa America preview: Can Uruguay finally strike right balance behind Suarez and Cavani?