Uruguay’s U20 World Cup campaign got off to a great start on Sunday morning after defeating Italy 1-0 in their opening game of Group D. The goal-scorer was Rodrigo Amaral who is on a redemption mission of sorts after his costly penalty shootout miss in Uruguay’s elimination to Brazil in the 2015 U20 World Cup. From the outside one can see, Uruguay won the game, got the three points and are one step closer to the round of 16; however there are some key takeaways to notice from the game.
The Historic Use of Video Technology
Fifa prior to the tournament announced that they would be implementing their new video technology (VAR: Video Assistant Referee) in the tournament and using the U20 World Cup as a test run for this technology. The majority opinion seems to be split at the moment however enthusiasts to this idea will claim that if the referee can make the correct decision in an an quick, reasonable and efficient amount of time than the video technology will help ensure that there are really no mistakes in the game. VAR was first used in the England and Argentina game where the english battered an helpless Argentina side 3-0; who went down to 10 men thanks to the assistance of the VAR. The VAR determined that Argentina forward Lautaro Martinez elbowed his opponent who then was sent off by the referee. The ref after the incident stopped play and proceeded to a group of officials on the sideline, before getting the final verdict from the VAR.
It’s strange seeing the game of football develop and change in this way. The introduction of video technology is one met with split opinions. Some can agree with the argument that this new aspect of the game will remove some of that grittiness and heat in big games, I mean just imagine if there was an VAR in the 2011 Copa America Quarter final between Argentina and Uruguay. Uruguay benefited from the VAR in the game against Italy, the Bolivian Assistant Video Ref awarded La Celeste a penalty after Joaquín Ardaiz was pulled down by an Italian defender. The referee however took longer than expected to make the definitive call. Nico De La Cruz would go on to miss the following penalty.
Uruguay’s Impressive Midfield Display
Uruguay has a strong team and their performance in the midfield represents signs of hope. Despite dying off near the second part of the second half, Uruguay’s midfield showed signs of positive movements at times and a move away from the need to only have ball winners in the middle of the field. One can only pray that El Masetro was watching this midfield, as the technique and class of the four in the midfield; De La Cruz, Waller, Bentancurt and Valverde were solid but it was Valverde and Bentancourt that shined in particular gaining a lot of praise from the press after the game for their great performances. Federico Valverde who was absent int he U20 Sudamericano because of his commitment to Real Madrid was excellent. Valverde had the most touches on the field with (69) and the most successful passes (84%) ( Statistics from OptaJavier on Twitter) If the senior national team needed a lesson ( in which they do) they should look no further but this team’s recent performances. Uruguay also had the majority possession (53%) – yes you heard that correctly, Uruguay perhaps has the ability and the players to play modernized football in the future.
Key Players Injured
Key Casualties were suffered as a result of a hard fought victory for La Celeste. In the 30th minute of the game Facundo Waller had to be substituted near the 30th minute after an injury saw him be replaced with Benavidez. The injury which looked worse then what is being made of it, is set to keep Facundo Waller out for the reaminder of the group stage. Rodrigo Amaral who scored the game winning goal also suffered a knock near the end of the game which now make shim a doubt for Wednesday’s game against Japan. These are two important losses for Uruguay, the expected replacements should be Carlos Benvidez for Facundo Waller while Rodrigo Amaral’s absence on the bench may allow for Marcelo Saracchi (MF) or Agustin Canobbio (FW) to get more playing time depending on how offensive Fabain Coito wants to go with his tactics.
Amaral’s Moment of Magic
Rodrigo Amaral who was the top scorer at the U20 Sudamericano started on the bench in Fabian Coito’s team selection. It was Amaral however that proved to be the difference, despite barely even touching the ball since being brought into the game for Ardaiz in the 56th minute, Amaral delivered a piece of magic from an free kick which left the Italian goal standing still. Amaral brought that moment Uruguay needed; at an time when La Celeste’s performance was at it’s biggest slump in the game Amaral brought life into the team with that one free kick. Amaral has been used in doses by Fabian Coito since the U20 Sudamericano where it was moments of magic or a n unexpected effort at goal that inspired Uruguay to victory. Amaral is carrying extra weight on him as pointed out by the press, many see him as not being fit enough to consistently play 90 minutes in a short period of time; however the kid does posses the attributes to develop into something special. Coito will most likely look to preserve him for the tournament’s most important parts.
Italy 0-1 Uruguay
Amaral 77 (U)
Italy U20: Zaccagno; Scalera, Coppolaro, Marchizza, Pezzella; Pessina, Mandragora, Barella (Vitale 91); Orsolini (Ghiglione 52), Favilli, Vido (Panico 83)
Uruguay U20: Mele; Jose Rodríguez, Rogel, Bueno, Mathias Olivera; Bentancur, Valverde (Canobbio 91); De la Cruz, Ardaiz (Amaral 56), Waller (Benavidez 29); Schiappacasse
Ref: Lopez (GUA)
Saved penalty: De La Cruz 43 (U)
Uruguay vs Japan
Uruguay’s next game will see them take on the Japanese who defeated South Africa 2-1 in their opener. The winner will ensure qualification into the round of 16, and most likely also qualify first place. The game is set for a Wednesday Morning kickoff at 7:00am US EST Time. Vamos Arriba Uruguay!!