Connect with us

Opinions

Defensor flying the flag for beleaguered Uruguay

DefensorSporting It’s been a pretty torrid few weeks in Uruguayan football. Nacional’s 4-2 home defeat to Newell’s in the Copa Libertadores sparked violence, leading to the arrests of 40 fans and leaving 28 police injured.  President Jose Mujica stepped in and announced that enough was enough and police protection would be withdrawn from stadiums.  In the ensuing crisis, the directors of the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) promptly stepped down and rumours – albeit exaggerated ones – abounded that FIFA might even exclude Uruguay from the World Cup this summer. As expected, Blatter quashed such talk and Mujica has since agreed to restore security to domestic football games, hoping that his scare tactic will have made some impact.  But the doubts remain.  Unfortunately, barra brava violence is a deep rooted problem, not just in Uruguay but across the Rio de la Plata in Argentina and across South America, and shows no signs of abating any time soon.

This off-field malaise has been compounded on the field too by the Libertadores performances of the country’s two biggest sides and eternal rivals: Nacional and Peñarol.   Nacional, admittedly drawn in what was dubbed the ‘Group of Death’ alongside Gremio, Newell’s and Atletico Nacional, finished rock bottom of Group 6, losing all three home games and picking up only one point on their travels. Peñarol, in an altogether kinder group, have fared only slightly better with one win and two draws but were eliminated at the group stage for the third successive year running since reaching the final in 2011. However, one side still flying the flag for Uruguay are Defensor Sporting.

The club based in Parque Rodo in the south of Montevideo are the third most successful club in the country but its four league titles are dwarfed by the 38 and 33 of Peñarol and Nacional respectively. Despite this gulf in historic achievements, they are outclassing their lofty neighbours on the continental stage this season. Defensor bounced back from an opening away defeat to Universidad de Chile to thrash Real Garcilaso 4-1 and then spectacularly beat reigning Brazilian champions Cruzeiro 2-0.  A 2-2 draw away in the reverse fixture at the Mineirão was followed with a solid 2-0 win away at altitude to Garcilaso that left them needing only a draw at the Estadio Luiz Francini against La U to qualify, a result they duly achieved to ensure they topped a tricky group five with 11 points from 6 games.

CAMPO_CreativeRequirements_CAMPO_Animated_468x60

Famed for producing talent – the likes of Sebastian Abreu, Diego Perez and Martin Caceres all began their careers at the Violeta – their Libertadores success has fittingly been based on youth.  Their squad is packed with a number of players who have represented Uruguay at various age levels, many of whom featured heavily in the U20 squad that finished as runners up at the U20 World Cup last summer.  Defender Gaston Silva captained that U20 side in Turkey that was a penalty shoot-out away from lifting the trophy and which also contained midfielders Leonardo Pais and Federico Gino as well as the trio of former graudates Diego Laxalt, Gianni Rodriguez and Diego Rolan, now at Inter Milan, Benfica and Bordeaux respectively. Furthermore, Ramon Arias, Adrian Luna and Matias Jones were all members of the 2011 U20s and Martin Campana was starting goalkeeper for the Olympic squad at London 2012.  Young defenders Matias Malvino and Emilio Zeballos were part of the Defensor side that finished 2nd in the 2012 U20 Libertadores and are now getting regular first team action, as is 18-year-old Mauro Arambarri – one of six Defensor youngsters called up to the latest U20 Uruguay squad.  Los Tuertos fine tradition of nurturing the talent from its semillero (literally seedbed) is alive and well and they are reaping the benefits.

But it is two young players in particular who are really standing out. Giorgian de Arrascaeta, a 19-year-old playmaker, was another of the young Charruas who shone at the U20 World Cup and the No.10 has carried that form into this season.  Nimble, technically gifted with brilliant vision and dribbling ability, De Arrascaeta possesses that rare knack of threading a killer through-ball or conjuring up a moment of game-changing magic.  As well as his seven league goals this season, he has particularly caught the eye with some dazzling Libertadores displays.  He produced a fabulous assist in the 2-0 victory over Cruzeiro, chapeau-ing two players before unleashing a perfectly weighted dink in behind the defence, and also scored with a cute finish away against Garcilaso. Linked to Barcelona last summer, his rights were recently acquired by agent Daniel Fonseca for $3.4million to make him the second highest transfer fee received in Defensor’s history. It’s a question of when, not if, he moves to Europe and whoever snaps him up will have a gem on their hands.

De Arrascaeta’s partner in crime, Felipe Gedoz, has arguably been the revelation of the Libertadores so far.  The 20-year-old Brazilian attacking midfielder, who joined from third division side Guarani FC de Campinas back in 2010, has enjoyed a meteoric rise after netting four times in the competition, including a spectacular brace against his countrymen in the shock victory over Cruzeiro.  Another seven strikes in the league have seen Gedoz become a regular fixture for Defensor and he has forged a great understanding with fellow tyro De Arrascaeta, the duo adding a dynamism and potency in attack that has tormented defences across the continent. Youth aside, coach Fernando Curuchet has complimented the precocious Defensor squad with some wise heads. Club legends Nicolas Olivera and Andres Fleurquin add know-how and balance to the midfield, while Ignacio Risso and Mario Regueiro give the team experienced focal points in attack and allow Gedoz and De Arrascaeta to bomb on from deep.

Having twice made the quarter-finals – in 2007 and 2009 – Defensor certainly have a Sporting (ahem..) chance of repeating that feat.  Drawn against Bolivian side The Strongest in the round of 16, they faced a difficult, energy-sapping fixture up in La Paz, losing the tie 2-0, but will back themselves to turn the fixture around.  Although an admittedly uphill struggle, with the brio and impetus of youth they will not fear anyone and feel that they are a match for anyone on their day. Regardless of how far they do make it in this Libertadores campaign, the rousing performances of La Farola y La Cometa are proving to be just the tonic for the current ailing state of Uruguayan domestic football.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. kyle

    April 21, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    Nice read only problem is that we can’t see these guys cable companies will never show these minor leagues

    • Tom

      April 23, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      That’s why I’m here to provide you with a bit of an insight into leagues that don’t get as much coverage 🙂

      Trust me, you’ll be seeing De Arrascaeta (and probably Gedoz) in more visible leagues soon enough

      Glad you liked the article 🙂

  2. jakagator12

    April 30, 2014 at 3:00 AM

    Great article! Not enough English-language articles like this.

  3. Pingback: 2014 Copa Libertadores Review: San Lorenzo's cup demons laid to rest Outside of the Boot

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest

Tactical Analysis1 day ago

Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2-3 Lazio | Simone Inzaghi exposes Juventus’ 4-2-3-1 weaknesses

Cheuk Hei Ho writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Italian Super Cup final that finished Juventus 2-3 Lazio

Tactical Analysis1 day ago

Tactical Analysis: Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City | Attacking Patterns & Transitions

Kaushik Goswami writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Premier League opener that finished Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City

Talent Radar3 days ago

Premier League’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

William Sinsky brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Premier League this season. It’s back. The...

Tactical Analysis3 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona | Real’s Pressing Excellence

Om Arvind writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Spanish Super Cup second leg that finished Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona...

Talent Radar4 days ago

Serie A’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Simone Torricini brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Serie A this season. The Under-20 World...

Tactical Analysis4 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Manchester United 4-0 West Ham | Fluidity and exploitation

Ryan Quinn writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Premier League game that finished Manchester United 4-0 West Ham Following the signings...

Talent Radar1 week ago

Eredivisie’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Mosope Ominiyi brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Eredivisie this season. Justin Kluivert // Ajax...

Talent Radar2 weeks ago

Primeira Liga’s 10 Young Breakthrough Players to Watch in 2017-18

Jose Miguel Saraiva brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Primeira Liga this season.

Scout Report2 weeks ago

Scout Report: Ainsley Maitland-Niles | Arsenal’s Versatile Prospect

Mosope Ominiyi provides a detailed scout report on Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Arsenal’s versatile prospect. Arsene Wenger announced that along with 17-year-old winger...

Specials2 weeks ago

Lazio’s Golden Age: The Sergio Cragnotti Era

Football News 24/7  Sam McKeever has a look back at Lazio’s golden era in the 90’s under the ownership of Sergio...

Opinions2 weeks ago

Analysis: Why Nemanja Matic could be Manchester United’s most important signing

Kaushik Goswami has a look at why Nemanja Matic could be Manchester United’s most important signing. Having already lured Romelu...

Opinions3 weeks ago

Monaco’s Moves: Why the Football World should pay attention

While the football world is focused on the players being sold by Monaco, Alex Lynch has a look at how...

Scout Report3 weeks ago

Scout Report: Joel Pereira | Manchester United’s Agile Goalkeeper

Mateus Carvalho provides a comprehensive scout report on Joel Pereira, Manchester United’s agile goalkeeper. At the end of the last season, José...

Talent Radar3 weeks ago

Talent Radar: CONCACAF Gold Cup 2017 | U-23 Team of the Tournament

Football News 24/7  Jose Miguel Saraiva gives us his U-23 Team of the recently concluded CONCACAF Gold Cup featuring the...

Opinions3 weeks ago

Blindside Movements And Mental Overloads: Breaking Down Maurizio Sarri’s Tactics

Cheuk Hei Ho breaks down Maurizio Sarri’s tactics at Napoli looking at how the Italian giants use passing, blindside movements,...

Opinions3 weeks ago

Bayern Munich: What’s their game plan?

Alankrith Shankar writes a detailed article of how we can expect Bayern Munich to set up in the 2017-18 season....

Scout Report3 weeks ago

Scout Report: Juan Foyth | Estudiantes’ Ball-Playing Defender

Kaustubh Pandey provides a detailed scout report about Juan Foyth, Estudiantes’ ball-playing defender. Argentina has, since time immemorial, been a...

Scout Report4 weeks ago

Scout Report: Dayot Upamecano | RB Leipzig’s Precocious Talent

Mateus Carvalho provides a detailed scout report about Dayot Upamecano, RB Leipzig’s precocious talent. RB Leipzig is a source of...

Scout Report4 weeks ago

Scout Report: Philip Billing | Huddersfield’s young midfielder

Patrick Mills provides a detailed scout report about Philip Billing, Huddersfield’s young midfielder. Against the odds, Huddersfield Town, one of the...

Opinions4 weeks ago

Amin Younes: How the German international has redeemed his career

Alex Lynch charts the progress of Amin Younes from his days at Gladbach to his current success at Ajax Besides...

More on Outside of the Boot