Chelsea win highlights Uruguay’s weak link for the World Cup
The idea of a World Cup clash with a Uruguay team boasting Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez might have given Roy Hodgson restless nights aplenty, but if the England boss tuned in to Chelsea’s 2-0 stroll against Galatasaray he may well have spent the hours that followed sleeping like a baby.
With just four minutes on the clock at Stamford Bridge, Samuel Eto’o broke through the Turkish giants’ defence, rifling a shot goalwards and under the arms of the visiting goalkeeper.
The stopper in question? Fernando Muslera, current Uruguay international and the man entrusted with keeping the Three Lions at bay in Brazil this summer with England 9/5 for victory at Ladbrokes while the draw is 11/5 and the South Americans are 6/4 favourites.
It was a poor attempt at save from the 27-year-old, who has been a mainstay of Oscar Tabarez’s side, earning his first call-up in 2009 and going on to star at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with Uruguay reaching the semi-finals.
In truth though, the tournament acted as an excellent PR exercise for Muslera, whose career was in danger of stalling at club level following a series of disastrous errors for then-club Lazio.
Signed for €3m back in August 2007, the Uruguayan started well enough with four consecutive starts for the Rome club before a truly diabolical display against AC Milan at the Stadio Olimpico.
In a game that the Rossoneri won 5-1, Muslera was directly responsible for four goals, prompting Lazio to bench him in favour of 44-year-old Marco Ballotta.
Though the Uruguayan did regain his place in the Rome side’s starting line-up, a series of errors saw the club cash-in when Galatasaray came calling in July 2011.
His international record paints a different, if misleading, picture though, with Muslera keeping clean sheets in each of the three group games played in South Africa four years ago, though these were played against the hosts, a bickering France and an inconsistent Mexico.
The tournament did showcase Muslera’s major strength as a goalkeeper though: penalties.
In the quarter-final appearance against Ghana he saved two spot kicks in the decisive shootout, while at the Copa America a year later Muslera was the man of the hour against Argentina saving a decisive penalty from Carlos Tevez.
Even with Lazio, where his club form was questionable, penalties proved to be his making, with Muslera saving decisive kicks in the 2009 Coppa Italia final.
But as with his domestic displays, the 27-year-old has still been prone to errors at international level. At the last World Cup Uruguay may have made the semis but Muslera was directly at fault for two of Germany’s goals in the third place play-off.
A friendly against Spain last year, meanwhile, saw the keeper suffer another calamity, gifting Cesc Fabregas a goal out of nothing.
England may face a tough task to win the World Cup at 33/1 but with Muslera in goal, group progress looks an increasingly realistic aim and can be backed at 4/6.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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