(Reuters) – A smooth qualifying campaign spearheaded by their strikers and marked by the emergence of youth has given former champions Uruguay reasons to be optimistic about their chances at the World Cup in Russia next month.
Uruguay, winners of the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and again in 1950, won nine and drew four of their 18 games in the South American qualifying competition to finish second among 10 teams, ahead of Argentina and behind five-times world champions Brazil.
Progress - Finals - Contrast - Campaigns - Uruguay
Progress to the finals was in stark contrast to previous qualifying campaigns when Uruguay scraped through to the finals via intercontinental playoffs in 2002, 2010 and 2014 after missing out altogether in 2006.
Up against hosts Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in Group A at this year’s World Cup, Uruguay will consider themselves firm favorites to advance to the round of 16, a feat they have always managed under coach Oscar Tabarez.
Test - Spain - Portugal - Knockout - Stage
They could, however, face a potentially difficult test against Spain or Portugal in the first knockout stage.
One more reason for Uruguay to feel upbeat heading to Russia was their strong showing in front of goal during qualifying. ‘La Celeste’ scored 32 goals, a...
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