The weight of history will not burden Uruguay in their semi-final according to coach Oscar Tabarez.
The South American nation hosted the inaugural Fifa World Cup and triumphed on home soil back in 1930.
The men from Montevideo then had to endure an agonising 20 year wait before even qualifying again, but remarkably went on to lift the trophy for a second time when Brazil played hosts in 1950.
Uruguay’s current side are exceeding most people’s expectations, after 40 years in the doldrums, but Tabarez is still refusing to pay heed to past glories.
“The thing is, because of our history, there’s always a lot expected of Uruguay,” he explained. “And given that at previous tournaments we’ve not lived up to those expectations, a performance like this year’s stands out even more. We’d prefer not to be compared to the teams from 1930 and 1950 but, we’re still in with a chance of matching their feats. So, of course, I understand why back home people see this as our most important game in decades, but I don’t see that as added pressure.”
Celeste striker Sebastian Abreu also revealed that Tabarez has been busy scheming to halt Arjen Robben.
The Netherlands star could be a key weapon for Bert Van Marwijk’s men when they face Uruguay in Cape Town on July 6, but Abreu says their preparations are well under way.
“Tabarez has been talking to us about Robben and how to stop a player like him,” he said. “It’s always different on the field, but we know how to do it, but whether the actual execution comes off is another thing. Tabarez has asked us to concentrate fully, not just in the matches but also in training and he is very satisfied with our work.
We are among the best four teams in this World Cup,” he added. “This is something we never would have imagined before coming to South Africa.”