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Sunday, 2 June, 2002, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK
How Pua got it wrong
Denmark celebrate after scoring the winning goal against Uruguay
Uruguay's defence reflect on Denmark's winner

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Uruguay have their backs against the wall in the World Cup because coach Victor Pua made a basic mistake.

He attached too much importance to this year's warm-up games.

Ever since Uruguay booked their place Pua has been thinking of ways to alter the balance of the side, to give them the firepower needed to win games and get out of their group.

During the qualifiers Dario Silva was their only out-and-out striker.

Alvaro Recoba and Federico Magallanes broke from deep and then dropped back into midfield, making the team solid and difficult to play through.

But this year striker Sebastain Abreu came roaring back to form, was recalled to the national team and kept on scoring in the warm-up matches.

Against Denmark Pua was unable to resist the temptation.

He played Abreu alongside Dario Silva, and destroyed the balance of his side.

Dario Rodriguez's sensational goal was the lone bright moment in a dour performance.

On the big day Abreu did little of note.

The twin strikers were unsurpringly incapable of forming much of a relationship - not that they had much in the way of quality service.

Previously the long ball forward for Silva to chase had been a precious option.

Now it became the only option as, short of numbers in midfield, the man on the ball had little choice other than to hit long.

Alvaro Recoba in action against Denmark
Recoba was left isolated
Such a direct approach made it very hard for Uruguay to get the ball to the feet of their star player, Alvaro Recoba.

'El Chino' was bypassed when he could have offered the key to unlocking the Denmark defence.

After half-time Recoba was sent out to the left-wing to find space when he would surely have been more effective in a central role behind a lone striker.

The threat of the long ball to Silva would have forced the rival defence back and created space for Recoba 30 or 40 metres from goal.

Selecting two strikers also had disastrous consequences for Uruguay's defence.

With their midfield weakened, Uruguay were continually stretched as Denmark found it all too easy to bring their dangerous wingers into the game.

As expected, right-back Gustavo Mendez was the man to buckle.

The veteran was surprisingly recalled in April - even though he has been unable to gain a first-team place at his club since moving back home from Italy to join Nacional.

Open Quote
Our morale remains high - we are still in the competition
Close Quote
Victor Pua
Once more Pua was carried away by the flimsy evidence of warm-up friendlies.

He thought Mendez could still perform at the highest level but Denmark proved him wrong.

Both of Denmark's goals - and most of their opportunities - came from raids down Uruguay's right.

When Mendez tried to mark close he was beaten for speed. When he stood off he was unable to cut out the cross.

But the defeat was not entirely his fault.

He was a weak point left over-exposed by an under-manned midfield and Pua's short-sightedness.


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 SQUAD PROFILES
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 SQUAD PROFILES
GROUP A
  P GD PTS
DENMARK 3 +3 7
SENEGAL 3 +1 5
URUGUAY 3 -1 2
FRANCE 3 -3 1




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