By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 5th July 2018
Maintain only a passing interest in goings-on at the Riverside Stadium and you might be surprised, or even amused, to see that ex-Middlesbrough striker Christhian Stuani could start for Uruguay in their World Cup 2018 quarter final against France, if Edinson Cavani fails to recover from injury in time.
However, while Stuani failed to become a household name during his two seasons on Teesside, he left the north east with 16 goals in 68 games and a lingering sense among fans that he hadn’t been used to best effect.
One season – and 19 strikes in 30 La Liga games for Girona – later and the 6ft 1in striker looks arguably the most likely Celeste squad striker to replace Cavani if manager Oscar Tabarez persists with playing two up front in the Paris Saint-Germain star’s absence.
Stuani replaced Cavani when the latter came off injured in Uruguay’s round of 16 win over Portugal and has scored more international goals (five) than fellow forwards Maxi Gomez (zero) and Jonathan Urretaviscaya (likewise) combined.
Out of position but often in the right place at the right time
Played out of position on the right-wing during his time at the Middlesbrough, the amount of result-changing goals he scored for the club alone vindicate taking a financial interest in Stuani anytime goalscorer odds of 3/1 against Les Bleus.
No fewer than 13 of his 16 strikes for the club played a decisive part in either salvaging a point or securing all three, including the goal that secured the club promotion against Brighton in 2015/16.
His knack for scoring in meaningful matches was again illustrated when he bagged a brace away to regional rivals Sunderland in the Premier League the following season.
Stuani can also be backed to score first or to score last against France, both at odds of 15/2, while he is priced up at 7/1 to net in a 90 minutes victory for Uruguay.
La Celeste are hefty 7/4 outsiders to qualify for the semi-finals, with Les Bleus 2/5 favourites.