URUGUAY should prove an exceptionally difficult side to beat and represent a real obstacle for both England and Italy to overcome.


Outright odds: 28/1

To win group: 2/1

To qualify: 8/15


Full squad: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco Da Gama), Rodrigo Munoz (Libertad); Diego Lugano (West Brom), Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez (both Atletico Madrid), Martin Caceres (Juventus), Maximiliano Pereira (Benfical), Jorge Fucile (Porto), Sebastian Coates (Nacional); Egidio Arevalo-Rios (Morelia), Walter Gargano (Parma), Diego Perez (Bologna), Alvaro Gonzalez (Lazio), Alvaro Pereira (Sao Pablo), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton), Nicolas Lodeiro (Botafogo); Edinson Cavani (PSG), Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Diego Forlan (Cerezo Osaka), Abel Hernandez (Palermo), Cristian Stuani (Espanyol).

Manager: Oscar Tabarez

World Cup record: Two-time winners (1930, 1950), three-times fourth (1954, 1970, 2010)

How they qualified (most recent first): Comfortable winners of an intercontinental play-off with Jordan having finished just fifth in the South American zone, behind fourth-placed Ecuador on goal difference

v Jordan (home) 0-0 (HT 0-0)

v Jordan (away) 5-0 (HT 2-0) Pereira 22, Stuani 42, Lodeiro 70, Rodriguez 78, Cavani 90+1

v Argentina (home) 3-2 (HT 2-2) Rodriguez 6, Suarez 34, Cavani 49

v Ecuador (away) 0-1 (HT 0-1)

v Colombia (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Cavani 77 Stuani 80

v Peru (away) 2-1 (1-0) Suarez 43, 67

v Venezuela (away) 1-0 (HT 1-0) Cavani 27

v Chile (away) 0-2 (HT 0-1)

v Paraguay (home) 1-1 (HT 0-0) Suarez 81

v Bolivia (away) 1-4 (HT 0-2) Suarez 80

v Argentina (away) 0-3 (HT 0-1)

v Ecuador (home) 1-1 (HT 0-1) Cavani 66

v Colombia (away) 0-4 (HT 0-1)

v Peru (home) 4-2 (HT 2-1) Suarez 15, Pereira 29, Rodriguez 62, Eguren 90+3

v Venezuela (home) 1-1 (HT 1-0) Forlan 38

v Chile (home) 4-0 (HT 2-0) Suarez 42, 45, 67, 73

v Paraguay (away) 1-1 (HT 0-0) Forlan 68

v Bolivia (home) 4-2 (HT 3-1) Suarez 3, Lugano 25, 71, Cavani 34

Goalscorers: Unsurprisingly, Luis Suarez led the way with 11 goals - four of which came in the 4-0 win against Chile. Edinson Cavani bagged a more-than-respectable six.

Half-time/full-time: There's no particular pattern when it comes to Uruguay's method of victory, although they did win six of the seven games in which they led at the break which marks them down as good front-runners. However, only once did they come from behind to salvage a point.

Clean sheets: Uruguay kept five clean sheets, although two of those came against Jordan.

Win to nil: Uruguay won just three of their group games to nil, plus once against Jordan. By comparison, they won four times despite conceding so both teams to score and Uruguay to win looks a strong angle.

Cards: Here's a team worth keeping an eye on when it comes to playing over on the bookings. Uruguay's 18 qualifying games produced 90 cards at an average of 5 and while skewed by some particularly ill-tempered contests, Uruguay did account for 43 of the bookings and, given their propensity to allow opponents possession, they appear liable to picking up more than their share.

Other competitive internationals (most recent first): Uruguay finished fourth at last summer's Confederations Cup in Brazil, although the only sides they beat in the competition were Nigeria and whipping boys Tahiti. They were beaten by both Spain and Brazil.

v Italy (neutral) 2-2, 2-3 pens (HT 0-1) Cavani 58, 78

v Brazil (away) 1-2 (HT 0-1) Cavani 48

v Tahiti (neutral) 8-0 (HT 4-0) Hernandez 2, 24, 45, 67, Perez 27, Lodeiro 61, Suarez 82, 90

v Nigeria (neutral) 2-1 (HT 1-1) Lugano 18, Forlan 51

v Spain (neutral) 1-2 (HT 0-2) Suarez 88

Build-up (most recent first): Uruguay drew in Austria earlier this year and enjoyed an unconvincing win over Northern Ireland recently.

v Northern Ireland (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Stuani 62

v Austria (away) 1-1 (HT 0-1) Pereira 66


Team verdict: Uruguay should prove an exceptionally difficult side to beat and represent a real obstacle for both England and Italy to overcome.

This is a solid, experienced squad of players who've been working together for years now and have formed a real spirit, one which helped them get to the semi-finals of the last World Cup.

It's absolutely clear that many of this squad are past their peak and so much depends on the strikers, who are right up there with the best in the tournament.

Herein lies the problem.

The PFA Player of the Year left a Montevideo hospital in a wheelchair having had minor surgery and when those close to him are using language like 'hopeful', you begin to wonder whether he'll be able to recreate the fireworks he's shown for club and country over the last few seasons.

With these doubts lingering, it's hard to take a strong view on Uruguay but one thing is for sure: if they can beat Costa Rica in their opening match they will be very hard to keep out of the knockout stages.