Diego Lugano: “Uruguay is going to play one of the most important games in modern times.”

Uruguay has arrived at the semi-final stage of the World Cup for the first time since 1970. They are the last hope of South America after the early exits of favorites, Argentina and Brazil. Uruguay is a small but very decorated footballing nation. They hosted and won the first World Cup in 1930. Uruguay achieved world football immortality in 1950 by beating Brazil in front of 200,000 fans at Maracana Stadium in Rio.

Financial Incentives for the Final Four Teams

According to the BBC, reaching the semi-finals will put $18 million USD into the coffers of the Uruguayan FA. The winner of the World Cup will receive $30 million USD from FIFA. The runner-up will receive $24 million USD and the third place winner, $20 million USD. Teams that advanced to the round of 16 will receive $9 million USD. All 32 national teams received $1 million USD for expenses prior to the competition.

In comments made to the Montevideo newspaper, El Pais, protagonists of the penalty kick shoot-out win over Ghana, Sebastian Abreu and Fernando Muslera, weighed in with their thoughts on the quarterfinal and the upcoming tie with the Netherlands. Diego Lugano, who was injured and subbed out in the first half against Ghana, discussed his situation and the historic opportunity for his side.

Team Captain, Diego Lugano

Hoy corrí, hice musculación con mucho peso sobre la rodilla (lastimada), pero los plazos entre un partido y otro son muy cortos pero todavía hay tiempo para el partido contra Holanda. Veré mañana cómo estoy“.

“Today, I ran and worked out putting a lot of weight on the injured knee. But the time to recover between one game and another is very short but there is still time for the game against Holland. I will see tomorrow (Monday) how I am.”

Uruguay va a jugar uno de los partidos más importantes de los últimos tiempos. Es difícil imaginárselo, tienen muchos jugadores de nivel pero esta es una circunstancia muy especial. Es una buena oportunidad para demostrar la calidad del equipo. Creo que Uruguay tiene con qué pelear“.

“Uruguay is going to play one of the most important games in modern times. It is difficult to imagine it. They have many players at high levels but this is a very special circumstance. It is a good opportunity to demonstrate the quality of the side. I believe that Uruguay knows how to battle.”

Sebastian “el loco” Abreu on Holland

Es un muy buen equipo, pero tiene sus puntos débiles y nosotros tenemos con qué atacarlos“.

“It is a very good team but has its weak points and we must attack them.”

También destacó el estar compitiendo de igual a igual con países de primer nivel, que:

Si fuera a nivel política no podríamos competir. Es lo lindo que tiene un fútbol, que nos iguala a todos“.

Sobre su lugar en el banco de suplentes de la selección dijo:

Me siento bien en cualquier lugar que me toque ocupar en la selección. Si me toca entrar bárbaro y si no trataré de colaborar de la forma que pueda.”

Sebastian 'el Loco' Abreu scored the winner from the spot against Ghana
Sebastian 'el Loco' Abreu scored the winner from the spot against Ghana


He also stressed being able to compete head-to-head with countries at the highest level:

“If it was outside of a political level, we couldn’t compete. It is the great thing about football that we (a country with only 3 million people) are equal to everyone.”

On his position on the substitutes’ bench he said:

“I feel fine in any position that I occupy on the national team. If I’m put in the game, great, and if not I will try to help out in any way that I can.”

Lazio keeper, Fernando Muslera, has only allowed two goals in five games with some help from his friends
Lazio keeper, Fernando Muslera, has only allowed two goals in five games with some help from his friends
Goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera, on His Two Penalty Kick Saves and His Friend, the Crossbar

Sí, y eso me dejó muy contento, al haber atajado dos penales, eso les facilita las cosas, ayuda a los grandes pateadores que tiene Uruguay, como quedó demostrado en este caso.”

“Yes, and it made me very content to save two spot kicks. That facilitated things and helped the great penalty kickers that Uruguay has as was demonstrated in this case.”

En el penal del último de alargue, ¿qué pensó?

What did you think on penalty at the end of extra time? (The one by Asamoah Gyan).

Nada, puse la cabeza como hay que tenerla en una situación así.”

“Nothing. I kept my head like I do for a situation like this.”


What do you mean?

En blanco, sabía que debía tener la tranquilidad necesaria porque tenía que atajar ese penal.”

“A clear mind. I knew that I had to have the necessary calmness because I had to stop that penalty.”

Y apareció su amigo: el travesaño.

And your friend, the crossbar, appeared.

Sí, ¡je!, por suerte, una vez más no me fallaron mis amigos los palos.”

“Yes, hey!, luckily, another time that my friends, the poles, didn’t let me down.”

Desde la tribuna, a la distancia, pareció que después que terminó la jugada le dijo de todo al palo.

From the stands in the distance, it seemed that after the play ended, you said something to the crossbar.

¿Sabés qué? ¡Tenía unas ganas de abrazarlo, de besarlo…¡ Es que, por suerte, ahí cambió todo. Le agradecía, le agradecía con toda el alma y le decía: “¡Sos un grande, sos un grande!“.

“Do you know what? I had a desire to hug and kiss it! Due to it, luckily, oh, there changed everything. I thanked it, I thanked it with all of my soul and said: ‘You are great, you are great!’ “

On Their Chances: God and Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez handled the ball and many players from Ghana thought that it was already over the goal line
Luis Suarez handled the ball and many players from Ghana thought that it was already over the goal line

Vamos a ver, vamos a ver qué pasa. Dios y (Luis) Suárez, porque la verdad es que si él no mete la mano en ese momento ahora no estábamos donde estamos, nos ayudaron a llegar a las semifinales y ahora vamos a pelearla… Veremos, donde sea, nosotros seguimos soñando, y nos tenemos una confianza bárbara“.

“We’ll see, we’ll see what happens. God and Luis Suarez. Because the truth is, if he didn’t stick out his hand in that instant, we would not be where we are now. It helped us to reach the semi-finals and now we are going to fight for it… We will see, where it is, we are going forward dreaming and we have a tremendous confidence.”

Do you think that God intervened for Uruguay? Or would have goal line technology shown that the whole ball crossed the whole line which would have given the victory to Ghana?

Spanish source: El Pais, July 4, 2010.

Also see: Uruguay vs Netherlands Semifinal Preview.

Steve Amoia is a freelance writer, editor and translator from Washington, D.C. He writes the World Football Commentaries blog. He has written for AC Cugini Scuola Calcio (Italian soccer school), Football Media, Keeper Skool and Soccerlens.