Welcome back to On the Break! This is the first post in what I suppose is a new series, although it’s a continuation of Maxi Pereria’s managerial dynasty! Having taken the Uruguayan national job while still with Defensor Sporting (click HERE to catch up with that portion of the save) it’s now the sole focus while Maxi is between club sides.
To give a bit of context to future plans, at the time of writing some European leagues have been added to the save to hopefully find an interesting challenge. If not, we’ll do a couple of tournaments with Uruguay and then retire the save and move on to something new.
With the in and out nature of international football I’m not going to inundate you all with a load of screenshots (I’ve probably already called up 30 different players over my six games in charge). Instead I’ll give a rough idea of the quality available with a few different categories, starting with the players that are likely to start every game they’re available for.
We’re of course familiar with Ramiro Centurión, a player who came through the Defensor youth academy and is now a genuine world star at Juventus. He could at one point have been joined by Diego Alfonso, but he instead joined Nacional and is now clear first choice for club and country – at 22 and with 28 caps already he could easily join Fernando Muslera in the 100 cap GK club. Darwin Núñez and Rodrigo Bentancur both add a lot of elite level experience to the side, as well as incredible ability. I’m slightly concerned by Darwin’s scoring record both in his international career as a whole and in my brief reign so far, but you can’t argue that he’s a world class striker and will surely come good sooner rather than later.
I had to actively choose not to flood this with Defensor players! 👀
I couldn’t leave out Christian Colman though, 4 goals in 3 caps and a recent move to Club América will hopefully see him really kick on now and push to become our starting striker, he’s on the only player in the squad with apparent 5* potential so he could be a genuine superstar. Sebastián Ramos has settled into the side well since I gave him his debut, he’s a very technically gifted midfielder and is handy out wide or through the middle which makes him far harder to drop. Then we come to Yuber Santos and Diego Tejera, who could conceivably be our central defensive partnership for a decade. Yuber has already earned 30 caps by the age of 21 and established himself alongside Ronald Araújo, but I actually think Diego is a player I can expect a bit more from, he’s slightly more complete as a player and has already proved himself capable at full-back in a couple of matches.
There are plenty of promising youngsters looking to break through into the senior setup, but these are the 4 I think are the closest, plus a player that I can’t believe has been overlooked so far! Gonzalo Alonzo reminds me a bit of Thomas Müller, he’s not great technically but his goal scoring record from that left wing has been incredible, especially last season where he bagged 26 in 38 games in all competitions for Nacional. Rafael Cabrera is realistically the long term competitor to Alfonso in goal. Santiago Mele still has a bit to offer at 31, but only has 8 caps and has clearly been overtaken, and although I love Matías Dufour (I plucked him from Defensor’s reserves and he massively outperformed his attributes) he’s not close to threatening the other keepers in the squad. Even at 19, Jhon da Luz would probably have already played for his country if it wasn’t for the strength we have in attacking areas. However, his time has to come as he’s a definite threat both through the middle and from the right, and his ability to drop in and link with the midfield offers something different from our other strikers. Yonathan Manfrú has incredible ability and is being tracked by Chelsea and Liverpool, so a big move is surely in his near future. He offers a great option to challenge Tejera, Araújo and Santos at centre-back and can also sit at the base of the midfield which could become a handy route into the side for him. Last but not least, 27 year old Juan Manuel Gutiérrez. Sure, he had the likes of Luis Suárez, Edinson Cavani and Maxi Gómez ahead of him in the early part of his career, but to have never been given a chance in a friendly seems an oversight to me. An excellent Advanced Forward, he offers all of the attributes to score a load of goals at international level. He won’t get many caps now, but I need to see what he’s all about.
RESULTS SO FAR
So far so meh.
We started well with a win over rivals Paraguay, and have also had impressive wins over Chile and Ecuador, but all of these have come at home. On the road we’re winless, with a draw against Peru and spineless defeats to Venezuela and Colombia. So far I’ve set the side up with the same system I finished with at Defensor, but clearly there’s some tweaking to be done to adjust to the different personnel.
South American qualifying is fairly forgiving, with the top 6 all qualifying for the World Cup. However, we don’t want to take any chances and rely on others slipping up, and so far we’re doing well in second place. Our next two games are big ones though, with Brazil away and Argentina at home in a double header. That will definitely decide if we’re fighting to top the group, or if we’re looking behind us to stay ahead of Ecuador and Peru in 4th.
So that’s a brief introduction to the Uruguayan setup, and I’m excited by the talent and potential we have. I think there’s definitely scope to win something with this group, so let’s see where we can take it!
Thanks for reading.