Defensive duo vital for Uruguay’s hopes


The opening round of games in the 2018 World Cup has been riddled with shock results, and smaller sides gaining results against more esteemed opponents.

The desire for all sides that are finding their way in Russia, is to establish a level of consistency in their play, and approach to group matches.

Despite not exactly setting the world alight with their attacking play against Egypt, Uruguay did set a template for defending, better than any side in the tournament.

Much of the outside focus for Uruguay has been on their front pairing of Luis Suarez  and Edison Cavani, but neither player enjoyed their finest moments in a Uruguay shirt against a Mo Salah-less Egypt.

Instead, it was the defensive duo of skipper Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez that stood out, and led the way for Oscar Tabarez’s off form side.

Godin was visibly irritated during the game, at his teammates lack of urgency in midfield and wastefulness in front of goal.

In defence, he and club mate Giminez, did not allow Egypt any opportunity to grow in confidence, working tirelessly to close down space and move their side further up the pitch.

This focused defensive resilience  has not been seen by any other side in the tournament so far, least of all any of the tournament favourites, with the Godin-Gimenez partnership arguably the most complete in Russia.

Experience of playing alongside each other at Atletico Madrid has benefited them at international level, but their playing styles compliment each other superbly.

Godin’s intelligence, and ability to drop in as a sweeper to snuff out danger on the counter attack, matches with Giminez’s willingness to go and attack the ball and physical battles.

Tougher tests lie ahead for both Godin/Gimenez, and Uruguay, particularly if they are to navigate their way out of the group, but their start has been brighter than it appears.

Goals and attacking confidence will come with the forthcoming games, but defensive strength and organisation takes time to bed in.

Time and patience are rarely associated with international football, but this partnership has given Uruguay a clear advantage as they can call on two of Europe’s finest central defenders, that know each others games well and possess the big game experience  that is so vital at a World Cup.

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