With the World Cup Group stages now heading towards their thrilling conclusion, we are none the wiser of how some groups will finish up. Group A, of course, has now concluded, with hosts Russia finishing second behind former champions Uruguay. It is with some contentment, then, that Uruguay stopper Fernando Muslera can be named the best goalkeeper of the tournament up until this stage.The 32-year-old, full name Néstor Fernando Muslera Micol, has excelled so far and has contributed to his team winning their group without having conceded a single goal in the process.
The manner of some of Uruguay’s victories may have been somewhat underwhelming of course, with 1-0 wins over Egypt and Saudi Arabia offering little in the way of long-term optimism for any success to be enjoyed by Óscar Tabárez’s side. An impressive 3-0 triumph over hosts Russia, however, certainly eased tensions among their support and indeed suggested they can compete in the later stages as successfully as some predicted before the competition began. With a forward line as clinical as Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, any team on the planet will offer a potent goal threat – but defence is arguably just as important. It is no good scoring two if you are going to concede three in every game, after all.
It is therefore important that Galatasaray custodian Muslera is acknowledged as having played a large part in the South Americans’ success so far this summer. It could be argued he has been the player to do his job the best in the whole squad of course, but the defenders playing ahead of him have been solid as a rock thus far. Such a fluent working relationship will bode well for any side as a tournament of this magnitude, and so the Uruguayans will continue to look to Muslera to maintain his penalty area command if they are to threaten some of the other tournament favourites such as France and rivals Brazil.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 16th June 1986, Muslera made his debut for the national team in 2009 and has since gone on to garner over 100 caps. His first World Cup tournament was in South Africa in 2010, making this his third World Cup after also featuring as Uruguay’s first choice in the 2014 edition in Brazil. How far Uruguay can manage to go this time remains to be seen of course, with a tough round of 16 draw against Group B runners-up Portugal coming up at Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi on 30th June at 7pm.
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