Sunday 19 November 2017

Five things we learned from from Uruguay's win over Northern Ireland

Uruguay's Christian Stuani (R) is congratulated by teammate Edinson Cavani after scoring the winner against Northern Ireland
Uruguay's Christian Stuani (R) is congratulated by teammate Edinson Cavani after scoring the winner against Northern Ireland

Rory Dollard

Uruguay struggled to breakdown a stubborn Northern Ireland in their 1-0 win in Montevideo. Here's what we learned from the game.

1. SUAREZ IS THE STAR

Anyone who has watched his stellar performances for Liverpool this year will hardly need any reminding of Luis Suarez's star quality, but Uruguay's struggles to break down Northern Ireland put the fact into stark relief.

With Suarez nursing the knee injury which threatens to disrupt his World Cup, Uruguay lacked a certain cutting edge in attack and Edinson Cavani is not the same when carrying the goalscoring burden on his own.

2. CENTRE-HALF COULD BE A PROBLEM

Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin was absent against Northern Ireland following his Champions League final exploits, leaving Diego Lugano - released this year by West Brom - and Liverpool misfit Sebastian Coates at the heart of defence.

Neither were overly tested by Michael O'Neill's side but they looked far from rock solid and an apparent lack of pace might be easily exploited by England's front men.

3. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

Suarez aside, Uruguay are not a side who follow the typical South American model of attacking flair across the park.

Oscar Tabarez prefers to set up with two rigid banks of four and let his goalscorers do their own thing, a gameplan he followed against Northern Ireland.

It led to long periods of inertia as Uruguay declined to force the issue and calm heads could be required if England are forced to wait for the structure to give.

4. TEMPERS COULD FRAY

Walter Gargano and Egidio Arevalo Rios both seemed combustible characters in the Uruguay midfield, with the former booked for a late slide on Sammy Clingan and the latter always on hand with a firm foot or a word for the referee.

England will need to be wary not to bite back if the middle men get feisty and hope their opponents exuberance gets the better of them.

5. FORLAN IS NOT TO BE FEARED

Although he successfully rehabilitated himself following a forgettable time at Manchester United, Forlan's best days are well behind him. At 35 and playing out his days in Japan, England should not live in fear of a revenge attack from a man whose time in the Premier League is not fondly remembered.

If Suarez is not given the green light to play on June 19, Espanyol's Christian Stuani, who scored the winner against Northern Ireland, is the more dangerous foil for Cavani.

Online Editors

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