Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani set for one last hurrah in Qatar
Edinson Cavani hasn’t been able to sparkle at a World Cup yet but the 35-year-old will get one last hurrah in Qatar… the veteran could well partner Luis Suarez for Uruguay just as he did back in 2010, having annoyed Man United during qualifying
- Edinson Cavani is set to play in his fourth World Cup with Uruguay at age of 35
- He could well partner Luis Suarez, also 35, in attack just as they did back in 2010
- Valencia striker has struggled to make much of an impression at World Cups
- He scored just once during Uruguay’s semi-final run in South Africa 12 years ago
- 2014 saw them crash out to Colombia while 2018 saw injury after two big goals
- Cavani was determined to make 2022, even to the detriment of his club career
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
On June 22, 2010, Edinson Cavani whipped in a searching cross from the right wing that Luis Suarez expertly headed home to earn Uruguay a World Cup win over Mexico.
More than 12 years on, those two could once again lead the attack for Uruguay at a World Cup. They may have a combined age of 70 but the South American nation still looks to them for goals.
That could easily be perceived as an indictment of the Uruguayan attacking talent coming through but more accurately it is a testament to their longevity and enduring class.
Edinson Cavani celebrates a goal during Uruguay’s qualification campaign for Qatar 2022
The veteran striker, 35, has been in amongst the goals since joining Valencia over the summer
He was with Manchester United last season but seemed to prioritise international football
In Cavani’s case, the strain of helping Uruguay to the finals in Qatar upset plenty of Manchester United supporters, who quickly realised he cared more for playing in his fourth World Cup than at Old Trafford.
But now the veteran striker is there – an unfortunate 11th-hour injury notwithstanding – he will be hell-bent on making his final major tournament a memorable one.
Cavani has never garnered too many headlines at World Cups. In 2010, he scored just once and that was in the irrelevance of the third-place play-off.
In 2014, he found the net in Uruguay’s opening group game, a defeat by Costa Rica, but not again as they exited disappointingly to Colombia in the round of 16.
Russia 2018 was better as the Paris Saint-Germain man, then 31, scored against the hosts in the group and then twice to eliminate Portugal in the last-16.
Cavani and Luis Suarez celebrate after the latter scored against South Korea back in 2010
The two strikers – who have a combined age of 70 – could well lead Uruguay’s attack in Qatar
Uruguay’s group fixtures in Qatar
November 24 – Uruguay vs South Korea (1pm UK, BBC One)
November 28 – Portugal vs Uruguay (7pm UK, ITV)
December 2 – Ghana vs Uruguay (3pm UK, BBC TBC)
But even that belated moment in the sun at a World Cup was tempered by the hamstring injury he suffered in the second-half, forcing him out the quarter-final loss to eventual winners France.
So in the twilight of what has been a prolific and trophy-laden career, Cavani would love nothing more than to make a real impact on the game’s biggest stage.
Of course nobody is tipping Uruguay to win the competition – 2010 was their best chance for that when they lost to Holland in the semi-finals – and they’re in an unforgiving group alongside Portugal, Ghana and South Korea.
But at least Cavani arrives in good touch. He signed for Valencia after his release by United at the end of last season and has scored four times in seven outings.
He was in a real purple patch before suffering an ankle injury 18 minutes into their loss to Barcelona on October 29.
The injury niggles have become all-too-familiar to Cavani, the inevitable consequence of an ageing body, and he has learned to nurse himself through.
That led to some friction during his time at United. It became clear where his priorities lay when he was fit enough to play in qualifiers against Paraguay and Venezuela back in January and February but then persuaded the agreeable Ralf Rangnick to let him have some time off afterwards.
Cavani’s commitment to Man United was questioned as he prioritised Uruguay’s qualifiers
Manchester United fans were annoyed when Cavani asked for time off after Uruguay duty
No sooner had Cavani returned to Manchester than he suffered a groin strain and missed another chunk of games, cooling off what lingering affection there might have been from the fanbase.
It was a shame because United fans had taken ‘El Matador’ to their hearts during his first season there under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Expectations were low when he came in from PSG but Cavani netted 17 times during the 2020-21 season and was especially brilliant in the latter stages of the Europa League.
He was a cult hero in the making, with fans making up a song for him to the tune of ABBA’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man after Midnight) and United staff saying he couldn’t leave without playing in front of a full Old Trafford post-Covid.
Cavani rolls home a penalty during Uruguay’s group game with Costa Rica back in 2014
But the tournament ended in disappointment as Uruguay lost in the last-16 to Colombia
But it was obvious that Cavani’s heart was really in getting Uruguay through the marathon South American qualifying process to earn himself another shot at a World Cup.
He managed to play in half the games, scoring twice, as they qualified pretty comfortably behind Brazil and Argentina.
2021 also saw him feature prominently at the Copa America, finding the net twice before Uruguay went out on penalties to those pesky Colombians in the last eight.
Cavani’s performances in the June friendlies probably confirmed his worth to coach Diego Alonso – he captained the side in games against Mexico and Panama, scoring twice in each.
Cavani heads home the first of his two goals against Portugal at the 2018 finals in Russia
But the game ended in disappointment as Cavani went off injured and missed the quarter-final
That took his grand International total to a hugely respectable 58 goals in 133 games since 2008.
There will be critics who argue there shouldn’t be places in a World Cup squad for an old, injury-prone striker like Cavani or Suarez, who is now back playing in his homeland with Nacional.
But then it’s hard to argue there’s a flood of superior centre forwards being blocked off. Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez is likely to get a game, potentially partnering Cavani in a front two.
Beyond that, you’ve got Maxi Gomez, who plays for Turkish club Trabzonspor, Mexico-based Jonathan Rodriguez, and the young Empoli striker Martin Satriano, who has only one cap.
So why not stick with the old guard and give them one last hurrah in Qatar? Few will be more motivated than Cavani, at 35, to conquer the world.
Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez is set to play an important role in Uruguay’s attack at the World Cup
Cavani captained his country and scored twice in the friendly win over Panama in June
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