Don’t look now, but the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is being held in Qatar, is still less than a month away. Based on the odds, anyone will guess who will lift the Jules Rimet Trophy on December 18.
The Oddsmakers pinned Brazil as the +400 favorite, but the five-time winners have plenty of company at the top of the board with eight other teams sitting between +600 and 12/1.
And while a strong case can be made for any of these teams to win the championship, there’s a sleepover hanging out at 50/1 that deserves your attention.
Perhaps no country in international football weighs more than Uruguay, a small country of 3.5 million located between Brazil (214 million) and Argentina (45.3 million). Despite being the tenth largest country in South America, Uruguay has won 15 America’s Cup titles (most tied with Argentina) and the World Cup twice (1930, 1950), making it one of six countries to have won the Jules Rimet Cup more. than once.
It’s been a while since the Uruguayans got a taste of glory – their last Copa América title came in 2011 – and La Celeste’s World Cup history more than 70 years ago has nothing to do with how they performed in 2022, but it shows that Uruguay has a pedigree. and the system in place to achieve success in these formats. They’re doing something right, as evidenced by a trip to the semi-finals in 2010 and impressive group-stage records in 2014 and 2018 (Uruguay won five of their six matches in that period, beating England, Italy and Portugal).
During my 15 years under Oscar Tabarez, I knew what to expect from Uruguay. They were playing a well organized defensive style that was hard to break and always made them vulnerable.
Tabarez’s favorite tactic, which would have the Uruguayan rally in the middle of the field, dig into a defense and hope that Diego Forlan, Edison Cavani or Luis Suarez could provide a moment of magic, gave the skilled teams more bouts.
This style of play suits Uruguay. La Celeste didn’t have the talent to go back and forth with elite teams, so they did everything they could to monetize competitions.
But now Tabarez is gone and Uruguay’s strength appears to have shifted from the back of the field to the offensive third. Suarez and Cavani are still around and will play their roles in Qatar, but Uruguay will look to Fede Valverde (Real Madrid), Darwin Nunez (Liverpool) and Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham) to take them to new heights, while maintaining that commitment it is difficult to play against.
On the court, Uruguay ticks two of the boxes it is looking for in a sleeper bet. They have experience playing together and there is a lot of talent on this list, but the most attractive thing about betting on La Celeste is the draw.
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Uruguay has been drawn in Group H, which will put it against a weak candidate team in Portugal and two teams Uruguay should be able to overcome, South Korea and Ghana.
And although Portugal are the favorites to win the group – crucial because the second-placed team is likely to face Brazil in the last 16 – that is not a certainty. The Portuguese are high and low ceilings, and there is certainly a world where Uruguay can finish Group H and establish a win-win encounter with either Serbia, Switzerland or Cameroon.
Long shots don’t win the World Cup, but there were plenty of sleepers for deep runs. Turkey (2002), South Korea (2002) and Uruguay (2010) all qualified for the semi-finals, while Croatia finished second in 2018.
At some point, we’ll see a black horse win the World Cup and the wide open nature of this field is well-prepared to bet a gate-breaker.
Among the realistic long shots, Uruguay ticks every square.