The 20th century was good to Uruguay, who won two World Cups and 14 Copa Américas, but the 21st century hasn’t been half bad either.
La Celeste got off to a slow start but exploded onto the scene at the 2010 World Cup, when they stormed to a fourth-placed finish. Since then, they have gone from strength to strength, lifting the 2011 Copa América and causing some real scares in other tournaments.
Obviously, you don’t get that kind of success without some real star power in your squad, and Uruguay have had no shortage of superstars since the turn of the century.
Let’s take a look at the best XI Uruguay have had to offer us since 2000.
1. Fernando Muslera (GK)
After earning his first cap in 2009, Galatasaray’s Fernando Muslera has never looked back. He was outstanding at both the 2010 and 2018 World Cups and was also instrumental to the 2011 Copa América triumph.
2. Maxi Pereira (RB)
Part of a dominant Benfica side between 2007 and 2015, Maxi Pereira was once most capped player in Uruguay’s history, racking up a whopping 125 appearances across countless major tournaments.
3. Diego Godín (CB)
First called up as a 19-year-old, Diego Godín was the man to replace Pereira as Uruguay’s most capped player in March 2019. He has been a rock at the back at three World Cups and five Copa Américas and is deservedly viewed as one of the best centre-backs of his generation.
4. Diego Lugano (CB)
Diego Lugano captained Uruguay for eight years between 2006 and 2014, leading the team during their best period since the early years of the World Cup and bring Copa América glory to La Celeste for the first time since 1995.
5. Martín Cáceres (LB)
Martín Cáceres’ versatility has been crucial for Uruguay ever since he made his debut in 2007. Playing anywhere across the back line, Cáceres’ club career has taken him all over Europe, with Barcelona, Juventus and Southampton all on the defender’s CV.
6. Federico Valverde (CM)
Federico Valverde may not have been around for long, but there’s no doubting that the Real Madrid man deserves a place in this lineup. Already a star at club level, it’s only a matter of time before Valverde carries that success over to the international stage.
7. Diego Peréz (CM)
Former Monaco and Bologna midfielder Diego Peréz was as reliable as they come for Uruguay. He managed 88 caps across his 13-year spell with the international side, and is perhaps best remembered for bagging a goal and a first-half red card in the 2011 Copa América quarter-final victory over Argentina.
8. Rodrigo Bentancur (CM)
Like Valverde, Juventus star Rodrigo Bentancur is surely just at the start of what will be a lengthy career with La Celeste. He starred at the 2018 World Cup and will be confident of stealing the spotlight for years to come.
9. Diego Forlán (AM)
One of the deadliest finishers in Uruguay history, Diego Forlán was the top scorer and won the Golden Ball at the 2010 World Cup. His penchant for a banger was the highlight of that competition as he bagged stunning goals against South Africa, Ghana, the Netherlands and Germany. If you can’t remember them, go look them up. Seriously.
10. Edinson Cavani (ST)
For the best part of a decade, Edinson Cavani has been in the conversation for world’s best striker, and deservedly so. At international level, he’s been banging in goals ever since 2008 and still has a few more in him.
11. Luis Suárez (ST)
How’s that for a deadly strike force?
Barcelona star Luis Suárez became Uruguay’s all-time leading goalscorer in 2013 and he continues to score goals to this day. Alongside Cavani, he has tormented international defences for years, making them one of the finest attacking forces around.