MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) Although Uruguay is a small country with only 3.2 million people, it has produced some big talent.
The best-known name is Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, followed by Paris-Saint Germain forward Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan, now with Japanese club Cerezo Osaka.
Forlan was voted the best player at the 2010 World Cup and, despite being a substitute these days, is a valuable piece any team would want to have.
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Here are five players to watch:
Luis Suarez is expected to be Uruguay’s main threat. He is having his best season with Liverpool and could get the team back into the Champions League for the first time since 2010. But he has had his troubles.
He missed the start of this season, sitting out the remainder of a 10-game suspension for biting an opponent last season. He also served an eight-game ban for racially abusing a rival player in the Premier League.
”He has evolved in his game and his attitude,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. ”Perhaps it’s because of the problems he had in England.”
Suarez scored three goals at the 2010 World Cup, and added four when Uruguay won the 2011 Copa America in Argentina. He was named player of the tournament.
Edinson Cavani joined French club Paris Saint-Germain in July 2013 on a five-year contract. The transfer fee was reported at 64 million euros ($84 million), a league record.
He has been worth it. He has scored more than 20 goals for PSG and, with Suarez, poses one of the best 1-2 combinations at the World Cup.
Cavani’s goals are often spectacular, and he is just as famous for his tireless effort.
Diego Forlan was named the best player of the 2010 World Cup and shared the tournament scoring lead with five goals. He also scored twice in Uruguay’s 3-0 win over Paraguay in the 2011 Copa America final.
Forlan will be 35 when the World Cup opens and will likely be used in a reserve role this time. Few countries have such a back-up player to enter off the bench.
Martin Caceres is a defender who can play several spots on the backline.
Known for his strong passing game, he is a compliment to the aerial game of fellow defender Diego Lugano.
Diego Lugano is Uruguay’s inspirational captain, and he symbolizes the national team’s rough-and-tough style, known in Spanish as ”garra.”
The central defender joined West Bromwich Albion in 2013. He’s been having trouble getting playing time in England, which is a worry. So is a knee injury he picked up in a friendly in match in March against Austria.
Lugano is a key player, and Uruguay will need him in top condition.