Welcome back to On the Break! After the brief introduction to the Uruguay set up last time out, it’s time to bring some actual match action! Let’s recap the 18 months or so that Maxi has had at the reigns of La Celeste!
FIRST THINGS FIRST
I said in the last post that I had a couple of options for either continuing or rounding off this save. I hoped to be able to load some European leagues and find an interesting job to carry me through until FM22, but had the back up plan of retiring after a while with Uruguay and starting one last save. Seemingly that decision has been made for me, as the leagues I add into the save seem to reset and never become active, so I’m getting no closer to actually having any club jobs to go after. We’ll see how far we go with Maxi and Uruguay, but when this spell is over, the save will be too!
The second half of 2028 saw Maxi take charge of his country and it was very much a tale of joy at home, and woe away. We were a bit static and dull against Paraguay, but came away with a vital win against our rivals. We were no better going forward against Peru and were punished when we had a defensive lapse, costing us 2 points. Two commanding wins saw Christian Colman burst onto the scene with 4 goals in 2 games as we suddenly let loose and played with far more freedom. However, we were brought crashing back down to earth with 2 awful away defeats against Venezuela and Colombia – they’re good sides but we should be beating them.
As the year turned and we entered 2029 we were in electric form. New Zealand weren’t much of a threat and although we looked good going forward I was appalled with the two goals we conceded. From there though we were excellent, dispatching a decent Senegal side in the second friendly of the international break and then we went on to win all of our final 4 qualifying games – dispatching our away day blues in the process. Then came November, where an experimental 23 man squad were humbled by Jamaica and held in a drab draw with Ghana. After all of our hard work to play on the front foot these were two really poor performances and showed me that a couple of players aren’t ready to be mainstays in the squad.
World Cup qualifying is very generous in South America, with the top 6 all making the tournament. Not only were we never in danger of missing out, but due to our strong run at the end and Brazil drawing their last game with Paraguay, we actually topped the group! I’m not sure if that affects our potential draw, but it certainly can’t hurt! Plus, bragging rights are always nice!
Throughout the save so far Uruguay have produced some very talented players, both through Maxi at Defensor and the other clubs too. With Suárez, Cavani et all long since retired, I’ve been taking any opportunity possible to bring new players into the squad and see what they’re made of. These are all of the players to have made their senior international debut under Maxi Pereira so far.
Gonzalo Alonzo (Nacional) – vs Argentina
Nahuel Pinheiro (Nacional) – vs New Zealand
Alexander Rodríguez (CF Pachuca) – vs New Zealand
Alejandro Cauteruccio (Defensor Sporting) – vs New Zealand
Yonathan Manfrú (Danubio FC) – vs Bolivia
Jhon Da Luz (Defensor Sporting) – vs Bolivia
Adolfo Medina (Peñarol) – vs Peru
Rafael Cabrera (Danubio FC) – vs Jamaica
Pablo Leguísamo (Defensor Sporting) – vs Jamaica
Pedro Cardaccio (Nacional) – vs Jamaica
Federico Pereira (Nacional) – vs Jamaica
It seems 2029 was the year that Europe stood up and took notice of the incredible potential that Uruguayan football has. Several players made high-profile moves, including 6 players that have had some part in Maxi’s reign so far.
Gabriel Abero – Peñarol to Manchester City (£6.75m)
Sebastián Ramos – Peñarol to Fiorentina (£10m)
Jhon Da Luz – Defensor Sporting to Lazio (£9.5m)
Christian Colman – Defensor Sporting to Club América (£9.75m) *Now linked with Liverpool
Santiago Brunel – Defensor Sporting to Napoli (£6.5m)
Gonzalo Alonzo – Nacional to Brescia (£3.6m)
WORLD CUP DRAW
So with our passage secured, it was time to find out the passage we’d have to take for La Celeste to be crowned World Champions for the first time in 80 years! The 2030 World Cup is being hosted in England, with 16 goups of three sides.
I genuinely think that we have the closest thing to a ‘Group of Death’ at this World Cup. Based on world rankings Ukraine should be the nation to miss out, but they have some excellent, bordering on world-class players, and I think they’ll be a threat. Japan also have incredible quality in their ranks, with stars at clubs like Liverpool, Real Madrid and Leverkusen, and it’s easy to see why they’re bordering on the top 20 for the first time during the duration of the save. We have world-class players too though, and I back us to not only qualify, but to top the group if we play as well as we can.
Once the draw was completed I was advised by my Assistant Manager to arrange pre-tournament friendlies against similar nations. Ideally I wanted to face South Korea (29th) as the most similar challenge to Japan, but had to settle for Iran (43rd). Not ideal, but at least they’re also at the tournament and will want to be at their best too. To prepare for Ukraine, we’re facing off against Russia (41st). They’re at a very similar ranking to Ukraine but also possess some great talents and only narrowly missed out on the World Cup themselves. They’ll be a good final test before the real action starts…
That’s it for now, next time out will be the World Cup itself! International Management may be a pretty casual experience in Football Manager, but you can’t beat tournament football!
Thanks for reading.