Uruguay’s ultimate test: Netherlands

Uruguay have not been tested by a tough opposition in the 2010 World Cup so far. Their test was to come from France in their opening game but we all know what happened there. They cruised through the Group A – nil-nil draw with France, and beating South Africa and Mexico – landing a tie with Korea Republic in the Round of 16.

Luis Suarez doing all the goalscoring for Uruguay against Korea, putting them ahead in the 8th and regaining the lead in the 80th minute meant a quarterfinal spot for them against Ghana. After going 1-0 down at halftime, Forlan was the goalscorer ten minutes into the second half. The game ended as a draw and extra time saw a lot of action.

Suarez made an all important save on the goal line with his hands as he forgot that goalkeeping was not his job. He was shown the red card right away and in the stoppage time, Ghanian Asamoah Gyan had the opportunity to take his team through to the semifinals in the stoppage time of the second half of extra time. Not to be. Instead he hit the crossbar and Suarez became the sacrifice Uruguay had to bear for a place in the semis as John Mensah and Dominic Adiyiah missed their penalties in the shootout.

Now Uruguay stands against a Netherlands side that overturned the Brazil in their last game. The Dutch also happen to be the only team to win all their matches so far whereas Uruguay has technically drawn two.

Netherlands do have some trouble upfront as Robin van Persie is not living up to expectations but it doesn’t matter as Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben have been sensational for their respective clubs all last season and for the Netherlands so far.

For a Suarez-less Uruguay team, Forlan’s long range shooting expertise will be the key. Forlan for his country is a completely different player. He has been pulling all the strings and his partnership with Suarez has been right up there with the best.

Stats to be noted about Forlan: 9 of his 14 shots have been from outside the 18 yard box. So have been 2 of his 3 goals. The Dutch defense did a good job on Robinho, Fabiano and Kaka but none of them are quite the players who would go for long range efforts.

On the other hand, Sneijder is the key man for Netherlands. Definitely a strong contender for the Player of the Year award this season in my books. Won the treble with Inter Milan and he was instrumental in their first Champions League success in about 40 years.

Stats to be noted about Sneijder: He has scored 4 goals in the World Cup, that is one more than his tally in the 2009/2010 Champion League. He has notably increased his number of shots taking one every 34 minutes he has played as compared to one every 47 minutes in CL. He shooting accuracy has increased and his chance conversion has doubled.

He is a different animal for the Dutch. Where he was said to be staying back and creating chances for his club teammates and Robben was scoring all the important goals for his club, they seem to have switched roles. Sneijder is more offensive and Robben is just polishing his swimming skills.

If Uruguay is to go through, the winner of Germany vs Spain will not be that much of a big deal for them.

Also see: Uruguay vs Netherlands Semifinal Preview.

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