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Uruguay are not here for your viewing pleasure, and never have been

They don’t care what you think of their performances at all.

Uruguay v Saudi Arabia: Group A - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Screw you.

Yeah, you. Soccer fan, reading this, I’m talking to you. Did you think Uruguay played dirty against Portugal? Do you think they played too defensively? It doesn’t matter. You don’t matter, because Uruguay is not here for you. They’re here to try to win the World Cup the best way they know how, and that doesn’t involve winning over the masses with stylish play.

The 2010 World Cup — a horrendous tournament that featured referees allowing people to kick the crap out of each other and teams taking full advantage — might have fooled you into thinking that Uruguay has some ambition beyond scraping 1-0 wins. Diego Forlan deservedly won the Golden Ball as the best player on the most entertaining team, but that Uruguay side’s organization was just as much a defining principle for the team as their goals. They clogged the center and was difficult to attack.

Uruguay is very good at this, and it works repeatedly. They did not allow more than one goal in any of their matches en route to a 2011 Copa America title, and shut out their opponents in the semifinals and final. This is why, through all the ups and downs and multiple reports of his imminent departure, Oscar Tabarez has remained Uruguay manager for 12 years.

As a team built for knockout round soccer against superior opponents, Uruguay occasionally looks terrible against the Saudi Arabias of the world. But the beauty in their style — if you choose to see beauty in it, though most think it’s quite ugly — is that it has the same goal against Saudi Arabia as it does against Brazil. And it worked against Portugal on Saturday just like it did against Saudi Arabia in the group stage.

Keep shape. Suffocate. And in attack, create some set pieces and two-on-two attacks for star strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.

The math is simple — if Cavani and Suarez need a smaller number of chances to score than most strikers, play to limit the other team’s chances, because Cavani and Suarez can find a goal without the rest of the team taking risks going forward.

The Uruguayan style is regularly referred to as “garra,” which literally translates to “claw,” though that’s not the whole story. Garra is about playing with a passion and ferocity that suffocates the opponent. Sometimes that results in triumphant victory, but just as often it results in a first minute red card or getting thrown out of the tournament for biting. Uruguay’s greatest weakness is not a lack of attacking flair, but rather their penchant for violence.

In any event, Uruguay really does not care that you disliked their performance against Portugal. They disagree with your opinion that they should have opened up and taken the game to an inferior opponent. They’re not here to impress in group stage games, and they’re certainly not here to entertain you. They do not care about samba football or total football or tiki-taka.

Uruguay is here to crush opponents with the claw. Call them crap if you want, they’re entirely not bothered. Their style working, even if you hate it.