Mexico City: Uruguay midfielder Federico Valverde said he is glad they have a tough group at the World Cup as it will keep them on their toes instead of underestimating their opponents.
Uruguay are in Group H at the tournament and kick off their campaign in Qatar against South Korea on Nov. 24, followed by 2016 Euro winners Portugal (Nov. 28) and Ghana (Dec. 2).
“The more difficult the group the better. We need to face strong teams, we need something like this,” Valverde told DirecTV Sports.
“When we get something easy, we underestimate it. As Uruguayans, we like challenges and we have the weapons to be protagonists if we believe.” Uruguay have won the World Cup twice, in 1930 and in 1950. But the closest they have come since were three semi-final runs, the last of which came in 2010.
Four years ago in Russia, they were knocked out in the quarter-finals but Valverde believes they can go further in Qatar.
“(Uruguay coach) Diego Alonso tells us that we can be world champions and the dream is there,” he added.
“We believe that we can achieve beautiful things. We may not be able to, but our goal is to leave a mark. Anything can happen on the pitch and you have to think big.” Valverde, who started his senior career at Uruguayan club Penarol, has emerged as a key player for European champions Real Madrid this season with seven goals and two assists.
But the 24-year-old said playing for the national team is “the most beautiful thing there is”.
“I love Penarol, I played there and fulfilled a dream. Now I’m in the best club in the world, Real Madrid,” he said.
“But La Celeste is different. It is an honour, there is nothing like it.”