Uruguay ready to shake up South America

It has been 13 years since Uruguay last lifted the Copa America trophy having beaten Paraguay 3-0 in the 2011 edition in Argentina and this summer could see the 15-time winners become the sole nation at the top of the competitions honours list.  

La Celeste have been a team transformed since Marcelo Bielsa took over the South American nation last year with the former Leeds United boss bringing his thrilling style of football back to the international scene.  

Uruguay currently sit second behind Argentina in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying after six games and look the biggest threat to the defending Copa America champions this summer in the United States. 

Bielsa’s men defeated Lionel Messi and friends 2-0 last November and that will give them a lot of confidence in overcoming the World Cup champions. Uruguay also arrive at the 2024 Copa America in great form having hammered Mexico 4-0 in their final pre-tournament friendly. 

That game saw Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez score a hat-trick and Bielsa will need the unorthodox striker to be on top form if they are to be crowned champions of South America over the next month. If not, La Celeste have other weapons, which is why they are the nation Argentina will have the closest eye on throughout their time in the United States.  

Previous Copa America finish   

Uruguay’s last Copa America appearance in 2021 was underwhelming as despite not being as good as the current group of players, the expectations would have been to at least reach the semi-finals. However, Oscar Tabárez’s side were eliminated on penalties by Colombia at the quarter-final stage.  

La Celeste finished second in their group behind eventual winners Argentina, winning two and drawing one of their four games. That led them to play Colombia rather than an easier Ecuador, which resulted in their elimination.  

A disappointing World Cup in 2022 would follow their Copa America disappointment, but Bielsa’s team have come a long way since then. 

Copa America 2021 was a disappointment for Uruguay

Uruguay’s 2024 Copa America squad 

Uruguay are not a team with many standout names but the stars they do have are pretty special.  

Ronald Araujo, Jose Maria Gimenez, Manuel Ugarte, Rodrigo Bentancur, Federico Valverde and Darwin Nunez are all at some of the biggest clubs in the world and will be names casual fans of South American football will recognise. 

One player to keep an eye on is Flamengo’s Nicolas de la Cruz, who is a well-known figure for followers of South American club football. The 27-year-old is one of Uruguay’s biggest creative threats and has been very useful for Bielsa as the midfielder is a versatile player, who can play as a central midfielder and on the wing.  


Sergio Rochet (Internacional), Santiago Mele (Atletico Junior), Franco Israel (Sporting Lisbon) 


Ronald Araujo (Barcelona), Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Nicolas Marichal (Dinamo Moscow), Matias Vina (Flamengo), Lucas Olaza (Krasnodar), Mathias Olivera (Napoli), Sebastian Caceres (Club America), Guillermo Varela (Flamengo), Nahitan Nandez (Cagliari) 


Manuel Ugarte (PSG), Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid), Emiliano Martinez (Midtjylland), Nicolas de la Cruz (Flamengo), Giorgian de Arrascaeta (Flamengo) 


Luis Suarez (Inter Miami), Darwin Nunez (Liverpool), Agustin Canobbio (Athletico Paranaense), Brian Rodriguez (Club America), Brian Ocampo (Cadiz), Facundo Pellistri (Manchester United), Maximiliano Araujo (Toluca), Cristian Olivera (LAFC) 

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