Many believed that Uruguay's dramatic run to the World Cup semifinals in 2010 was somewhat of a surprise. It wasn't.

They were, and are, absolutely stacked. La Celeste erased any doubt that they were a flash in the pan by winning the 2011 Copa América, South America's quadrennial cup tournament. Uruguay struggled a bit in the group stage, before knocking out host Argentina in the quarterfinals. From there, it was a 2-0 drubbing of Peru and a 3-0 demolition of Paraguay that saw the Uruguayans lift their 15th Copa América trophy. The phenomenal performance in South Africa and the victory in Argentina led many to expect Uruguay to be one of the top contenders in Brazil.

But they almost didn't get there. After struggling for much of the qualifying campaign, including a 4-0 defeat to Colombia, a 3-0 loss to Argentina, and worst of all a 4-1 defeat to Bolivia, Uruguay finished in 5th, forcing them to play a two-legged playoff in order to secure their place in Brazil. Fortunately, their opponent was Jordan. A 5-0 away win for La Celeste in the opening leg ended the Jordanian's hopes, and Uruguay found itself not only in the World Cup field, but, thanks to their World Cup and Copa América success, as one of eight seeded teams.

Also working in Uruguay's favor? The last time the World Cup was held in Brazil, in 1950, the Uruguayans upset the heavily-favored hosts in the final.

Roster

Goalies: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Mart√≠n Silva (Vasco da Gama), Rodrigo Mu√Īoz (Libertad)

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Defenders:Maximiliano Pereira (Benfica), Diego Lugano (West Brom), Diego Godín (Atlético Madrid), Jose Maria Giménez (Atlético Madrid), Sebastián Coates (Liverpool), Martín Cáceres (Juventus), Jorge Fucile (Porto)

Midfielders: √Ālvaro Gonz√°lez (Lazio), √Ālvaro Pereira (Sao Paulo), Walter Gargano (Parma), Egidio Ar√©valo Rios (Morelia), Diego P√©rez (Bologna), Cristian Rodr√≠guez (Atl√©tico Madrid), Gast√≥n Ram√≠rez (Southampton), Nicol√°s Lodeiro (Botafogo)

Forwards: Luis Su√°rez (Liverpool), Edinson Cavani (Paris St Germain), Abel Hern√°ndez (Palermo), Diego Forl√°n (Cerezo Osaka), Christian Stuani (Espanyol)

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Nickname

La Celeste

FIFA World Ranking

7

Manager

√ďscar Tab√°rez

Players to Watch

Luis Su√°rez, Forward

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You may have heard of Luis Su√°rez before. Maybe it's from 2010, when he bit an opposing defender in the Dutch League. Or it could be from 2011, when he allegedly used racist language against Manchester United's Patrice Evra. Or perhaps it's from 2013, when he again bit an opposing defender, this time Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic. There's little doubt that Su√°rez frequently crosses the line with his aggressive play, and also little doubt that gravity appears to affect him far more powerfully than any other human on earth.

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But for all his "issues" on the field, Su√°rez is, undeniably, one of the greatest strikers in the world. He's not particular tall, or strong, or fast, but he's quite possibly the most exciting single player in the sport.

And that's because, above all, Suárez is a demon on the pitch. Equal parts cat and cockroach, Suárez is impossible to kill. It's cliché to say that one player "wants it more" more than another, especially on a stage as large as the Premier League or World Cup, but the Liverpool forward possesses a savage hunger unlike any other forward of his generation. For 90 minutes, Suárez sprints, slides, dives, darts, whiles, spins, and feints, until he finds that rare seam, that precious yard in the box to unleash a rocket of a shot with either foot. More than anything, Suárez is inevitable.

For Uruguay, Su√°rez partners up top with Edinson Cavani, one of the world's best strikers in his own right. Manager Tab√°rez gives both free reign to create opportunities, often resulting in Su√°rez dropping back into midfield or drifting out wide in order to spark attacks.

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And Su√°rez is coming into the World Cup in as good form as anyone in the world; his 31 League goals in only 33 games led the Premier League, 10 goals ahead of second place. His 12 assists were only second to teammate Steven Gerrard. In short, he's borderline unstoppable by defenders.

What may slow him down, though, is his own health; Su√°rez is currently recovering from minor knee surgery. Although Uruguay remains confident that their striker will be ready to go by the start of the group stage, a less-than-healthy Su√°rez could be damaging to the squad's hopes.

Diego Godín, Defender

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Uruguay's reputation as a free-flowing attacking side is well deserved. But it may be La Celeste's defense that impacts whether or not the squad can repeat 2010's success. Leading the backline is Godín, coming off a career year and La Liga title with Atlético Madrid. Like Suárez, Godín isn't blessed with height or speed, but he thrives as a central defender because of his superb positioning and reading of the game.

Godín led Atlético in both clearances and interceptions in this past season, precisely because he gets himself into effective positions. In addition to helping his defense stay organized, Godín's sense of positioning helps him avoid ill-advised challenges. Godín hasn't received a red card since the 2011-2012 season, though he plays for a club that often leaves its defenders exposed to one-on-one counter attacks.

Fresh off scoring his team's only goal in the Champions League Final, Godín will be looking to fortify Uruguay's defensive line. If he and captain Diego Lugano continue to develop their partnership in central defense, Uruguay will be difficult to break down.

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Tactics

Four years ago, Uruguay deployed a 4-3-3 formation, with a forward line led by Su√°rez, Cavani, and 2010 Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan. Though Su√°rez and Cavani are still vital parts of the squad, Forlan's form has dipped since South Africa. Playing now in the Japanese league, Forlan has seen his playing time for the National team reduced in recent months.

If Tab√°rez judges that Forlan is capable of reproducing his 2010 magic and Su√°rez remains healthy, the 4-3-3 should remain in place. However, Tab√°rez has also experimented with a version of a 4-4-2, with Su√°rez and Cavani up top. What makes the 4-4-2 as effective as Uruguay's preferred 4-3-3 is who Tab√°rez selects to play the wide midfield slots. In recent friendlies, Uruguay have used pacey strikers like Christian Stuani and Gaston Ramirez as their wide midfielders, replicating some of the offensive presence of the 4-3-3.

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If Su√°rez is less than 100%, Uruguay may not be as dominant as they would be otherwise, but they have enough replacement offense coming off their bench to still be effective. While 2010 may have been Forlan's tour-de-force, and all the attention was on Su√°rez (and his handball), could see the somewhat overshadowed Cavani forced to take the reins as Uruguay's star man.

The midfield is anchored by Walter Gargano and Egidio Arevalo Rios, who are archetypal defensive midfielders. Though neither is really capable of making a defense-splitting pass or even that great at maintaining possession, both provide defensive mettle that complements the forwards and wide midfielders. With those two sweeping in front of Godín and Lugano, Uruguay have a defensive spine that allows them to push forward in numbers.

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Though Uruguay were drawn into a difficult group with Italy and England, their attacking strength should be enough to see them through, especially against defensively shaky teams like England and Costa Rica.

Group D Fixtures

All times Eastern

June 14, 3 p.m: Uruguay vs. Costa Rica at Est√°dio Castel√£o

June 19, 3 p.m.: Uruguay vs. England at Arena Corinthians

June 24, 12:00 p.m.: Italy vs. Uruguay at Est√°dio das Dunas

Complete Group D Previews

Italy | England | Costa Rica| Full Archive

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Screamer is Deadspin's soccer site. We're @ScreamerDS on Twitter. We'll be partnering with our friends at Howler Magazine throughout the World Cup. Follow them on Twitter, @whatahowler.

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Top image by Sam Woolley; photos via Getty.