Christmas! Another year coming to an end. We’ll bury 2017 just like we buried 2016 and before it 2015… but, it was a special year, we should take stock of what happened which made 2017 so special: Uruguay qualified to the World Cup, check that, Uruguay qualified directly to the World Cup. And there were no playoffs, no asterisk, no back-door entries. We should celebrate.
Truth be told though, it was an odd year. Uruguay only managed 2 wins. Uruguay kickstarted 2017 with losses to Brazil at home and an away loss to Peru. This was followed by 2 European friendly losses to Ireland and Italy in June. And then in late August, when it looked like it was all over, Uruguay parked the bus at home to prevent Sampaoli from debuting with a win with Argentina.
September gave us the unexpected away win over Paraguay… and let me check my notes here, the first time Uruguay defeated Paraguay at Asuncion in World Cup Qualification. And then October rolled by and we saw another goalless draw, this time to Venezuela who everyone says is improving and will one day qualify to the World Cup and blah blah blah, we’ve been hearing that for over 15 years! The Veneuzela match was followed by a win over lowly Bolivia to close out the year and assure World Cup Qualification. Finally there were two lackluster friendly matches with Poland and Austria, the Poland friendly a colossal bore of epic proportions, the Austria friendly a match which even though it resulted in a loss served to give De Arrascaeta, Valverde, Bentancur and even Maxi Gomez some much needed playing time minutes.
And then December rolled in; with no pressure and feeling the need to spread the love, Tabárez went on an interview tour in Uruguay, talking to anybody with a microphone, and all but happy to preach the gospel of “El Proceso Tabárez” – he went on to say that Lucas Torreira has been “tracked” for over a year, and tried his best to lower expectations by saying we shouldn’t expect to win the group (even though we did draw Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia).
Although not confirmed by anyone in la AUF, supposedly and God willing, Lucas Torreira will be capped during the China Cup (a friendly tournament Uruguay will participate in along with Wales, Czech Republic & China).
But while we got in, even with only 2 wins, and with the possibility that Torreira will be capped (although still in the rumor stage) all is not well. Tabarez’ eventual 23-man squad is still worrying, who will make the cut? Despite the phenomenal year Cavani has had, will Uruguay still be dependent only on Luis Suarez? Will Arevalo-Rios be capped despite playing a notch below shit? So many questions, so little time… 2018 couldn’t come fast enough.