Jun 14, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT
After his meniscus surgery two weeks ago, Luis Suarez is on the bench – as expected – but available for Uruguay against Costa Rica.
Group D is one of the most difficult in the tournament, and every match is crucial for all these teams who have high expectations in Brazil.
The pitch in Manaus has been a heavy talking point, but according to the ESPN broadcast crew, it’s good enough to play on and shouldn’t be an issue.
With the match kicking off at 3pm ET, here’s all you need to get ready:
Uruguay – Muslera; Pereira, Lugano, Godin, Canaceres; Gargano, Arevalo, Rodriguez, Stuani; Forlan, Cavani.
Costa Rica – Navas; Duarte, Umana, Gamboa, Gonzalez, Diaz; Borges, Tejada; Ruiz, Campbell, Bolanos.
1. How fit is Suarez and how can he contribute?
It’s a complete unknown how available Luis Suarez is for this match. Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said they were going to be “very careful” with him coming off minor meniscus surgery. Normally, meniscus surgery can take up to a month to recover from, but he returned to training just two weeks ago after a special, minimally-invasive procedure. However, he doesn’t start, and we’ll see how one of the world’s hottest strikers can contribute. He scored 31 goals in 33 Premier League matches last year, winning PFA Player of the Year honors.
2. Can Costa Rica challenge for a top spot in a group with three previous winners?
The Costa Ricans are the only Group D members without a previous World Cup title, and there is a wealth of experience throughout between England, Italy, and Uruguay. All three of those countries will be expecting a knockout stage match, so are Costa Rica talented enough to not only play spoiler, but to advance themselves into the next round?
Expectations: Par for the course would be a Uruguayan win, but for the team that needed a playoff to qualify for the tournament, questions remain about their togetherness and teamwork.
One blogger’s prediction: Without Suarez for a full 90 minutes, Uruguay will be much less creative. Forlan and Cavani are nothing like their missing strike partner, and they will struggle to a 2-2 draw – the first draw of the tournament.
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