Uruguayans representing in La Liga
Uruguay has 3.4 million people. It is the smallest country to win the World Cup. Until Iceland came along with its 330,000, making it look like mainland China, Uruguay was also the tiniest country to qualify. Despite Brazil and Argentina looming on its borders, the Charruas have been anything but intimidated, producing excellent football. They've won two World Cups and more Copa Americas, 15, than any South American nation. One recurring theme is Uruguayan players doing very well in Spain.
In 2018, three Uruguayan footballers are lighting up Spain's elite division. Luis Suarez obviously tops the list. The former Liverpool and Ajax striker is currently banging in goals with Barcelona. Behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Suarez has nonetheless totalled 22 goals so far this season. In his first, suspension-shortened campaign with Barca, he managed 16 goals. He followed that up with an astounding 41 last time out. At international level, the 31-year-old has amassed a half-century from 97 appearances.
Suarez isn't the only Uruguayan bagging goals in La Liga. Cristhian Stuani is turning out quality performances with Girona. In his first season, the Blaquivermell forward has managed to net 17 times in 26 appearances. His contributions have lifted the club to eighth place.
Stuani struggled with Middlesbrough last season, but did well in the Championship and enjoyed previous success in Spain at clubs such as Espanyol, Racing Santander, Levante, and Albacete. Also 31, Stuani has five goals in 40 caps with La Celeste.
Just 21, Gomez is taking Spain by storm. Celta Vigo signed him last May on a five-year-deal. He debuted against Real Sociedad with a brace. In 24 appearances with Celticos, Gomez has netted 13 times. he has his new club in ninth position. Gomez is one to watch out for in Russia after making his debut for Uruguay in 2017 against Poland.
Uruguayans aren't noted only for scoring. They are legendary defenders as well. These days, Diego Godin stands at the fore. The defensive powerhouse is among La Liga's most feared centre-backs. A strong and agile leader now playing his 11th Spanish season for Atletico Madrid, he has also appeared 116 times for his nation.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez need only make one call to summon his centre-half partnership. Godin and Giminez form a strong chemistry for both club and country. Gimenez is just 23. Having that mentor-like partnership is ideal for his development. He has played 37 times for Uruguay, developing his reputation globally as well as in Spain.
The connection between Uruguay and Atletico Madrid is strong. Diego Forlan was a legend at the club. Other notable Uruguayans in La Liga's past include Martin Caceres, who plied his trade at Barcelona. Gus Poyet turned out for Zaragoza over a seven-year period in his playing career.
With so many distinguished stars coming from the country, it's amazing how they always seem to be marginalised when a Messi or Neymar pops up. That's fine. They are all used to the treatment. When the chips are down, however, they make themselves known.