July 6, 2018

WHY YOU PLAY THE GAMES:

Uruguay Had the Perfect Plan to Beat France. Uruguay Did Not Beat France. (ERIC BETTS, JULY 06, 2018, sLATE)

Sometimes in sports you can come up with the perfect plan and it still won't be good enough.

Consider Uruguay's World Cup quarterfinal against France, which was a lot closer than the 2-0 score would lead you to believe. Uruguay fought back and for a time exposed a superior French side using all the weapons at its disposal: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to 71-year-old manager Óscar Tabárez.

Tabárez was leading Uruguay for the fourth time at the World Cup despite being diagnosed in 2016 with Guillain-Barré syndrome, which has him relying on a crutch or a wheelchair for mobility. He has been coaching nearly all these players for their entire international careers, and it's clear he knows how to squeeze every ounce of potential from a side representing a nation of just 3 million people.

Uruguay played aggressive, physical defense, combined in interesting and unexpected ways on counterattacks, and rarely spurned good chances. Its set-piece dominance in this World Cup had been absolute. Center backs Diego Godín and José Giménez are among the world's best at attacking and defending dead balls. Every foul whistled or ball knocked out of play seemed a small Uruguay victory.

Posted by at July 6, 2018 8:43 PM

  

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