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Sep 2011
11:15 Comments (6)
Balance wins

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Mauricio Pellegrino

The success of Uruguay in the recent Copa America was, in my opinion, a triumph of collective quality over the individual, where the whole was once again better than the sum of the parts. At the moment this has given us Argentinians a lesson. Try to be better as a group, leaving aside some of me for the common good. It sounds easy but it is difficult to achieve.

The small distances between lines in the Uruguay team made them very solid at the back and creating more space to attack. They went from good to better reaching the final where they had a physical challenge, beating Paraguay comfortably and making them look weak defending with gaps while trying to score. The third goal by Forlan shows the native identity of this group, a strength with sharp claws, and quality with pace to finish. It was here that Suarez emerged as the player of the tournament, he knew how to keep the ball better than anyone else, he frightened defenders with his pressing, won fouls at crucial times and finished with the aplomb of the most gifted.

When the maestro Tabarez took charge of the Uruguay National team after going out of the World Cup against Germany in 2006, all his messages or those I’ve heard, talked of coherence and belief which shaped a native team culture, with the personality of their past great teams but adapting to the present and thus putting the more talented players at the disposal of Balance. There is something in this identity which deserves my profound admiration. The sense of belonging and something present even before you pull on the shirt. The total and commanding sacrifice and indefatigable effort by everyone. This message was alive in their home country, the coach lives it, their history demands it, their opponents suffer it and their fans applaud. It is a subject that all of them must pass to enter the squad. It is the expected minimum. Talent at the service of the team or the team at the service than talent which crowned those who deserved it most. Congratulations Uruguay for believing in a collective project of work above all else.

The improvement of teams like Peru or the refreshing Venezuela invites you to glimpse a totally different view of the coming qualifiers for the World Cup in Brazil. Although in my opinion the 3 teams who chose to go for the goal at every opportunity (Brazil, Argentina and Chile) were unable to attain this balance that Uruguay had. Venezuela was a welcome newcomer and showed audacity in key games. Peru with Makarian found a position that will give them confidence in the future. Colombia continued with their ups and downs and we are used to seeing Paraguay getting better and better.

We witnessed a very good tournament, where all the teams did their best, except the improvised Costa Rica team who tried their best at a transitional time.

08/09/11 at 11:20:53 #1
Kristoffer Kolsrud
Very good and holistic analysis of the tournament You've pointed out how important it is to put the team in front of your ego. We've all seen this the recent years in the Barclays Premier League; I don't believe Manchester United has had the strongest squad the past 3 years (if you look at the players one-on-one) , far from it! I believe both Chelsea and City have better individuals, but the COLLECTIVE and balance in the squad of Man U is their key element of success, I think. YNWA, Kristoffer
08/09/11 at 14:48:52 #2
Very well written article that highlights some very true points.
08/09/11 at 15:51:52 #3
02/11/11 at 17:33:03 #4
I really worry that if we don't qualify for the Europa League this season Suarez will say his goodbyes and move to a club that can offer him European football.

Thanks to Henry, Newcastle have money burning a hole in their pocket and if they finish above us, which is a real possibility, it wouldn't surprise me if they made a bid too good to turn down.
15/01/12 at 23:15:47 #5
Great article.

Bill Shankly was a great proponant of collective team effort over the reliance on the indivdiual. I often hear former Liverpool players who won many trophies during the 70's and 80's saying that as individuals they didn't have the biggest names in world football, but it was because of their quality as a team, that they were so successful.
25/01/12 at 16:07:30 #6
Thanks for this article. I enjoyed this thoroughly. Though Suarez won the best player award, I felt as well that it was 100% team effort that won Uruguay the tournament. Their spirit and performance impressed me from the beginning.