Uruguay 1 Costa Rica 3: Luis Suarez and his World Cup thoroughbreds suddenly find themselves lame

Copa America winners got off to a disastrous World Cup start

Tim Rich
Sunday 15 June 2014 11:59
Costa Rica celebrate during their 3-1 win over Uruguay
Costa Rica celebrate during their 3-1 win over Uruguay

Even in defeat there were many positives for England to take away from Manaus, not least the calamity that overtook Uruguay.

When the draw was made Oscar Tabarez’s side looked the likeliest to top Group D, not least because of their recent record - fourth in the last World Cup that was followed up with a Copa America triumph a year later.

They left Fortaleza shocked by the first big upset of this tournament, with Maxi Pereira unavailable for Thursday’s game in Sao Paulo because of a vicious hack on Costa Rica’s Arsenal striker, Joel Campbell, and faced by the likelihood that Luis Suarez will not be fit to start.

Tabarez indicated that, if it had been up to him, the Liverpool striker, who underwent a knee operation on May 22, would not have been named among the substitutes at the Estadio Castelao, that witnessed an astonishing recovery from the Costa Ricans. Even when the match had been turned on its head, all Tabarez allowed Suarez to do was warm up on the touchline.

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez

“It was he who demanded he should be on the bench, not watching from the stands,” said the Uruguay manager. “It would have been very difficult for him to play, though.

“He was a serious doubt, you need to have a certain fitness level and in a World Cup you need to be able to reach the highest standard. There were concerns about his fitness and it was very unlikely he would play. We will see about England.”

Although Uruguay controlled much of the first half, Hodgson would have noted how vulnerable they were defensively, particularly from crosses. For a team built on the concept of garra or ’grit’ they seemed to have little to fall back on once Campbell, who had been loaned out to Olympiakos by Arsene Wenger, equalised.

For Costa Rica, this was unquestionably the finest moment in the World Cup and turns every calculation on its head. They will be a danger to England when the two teams meet in Belo Horizonte but Hodgson would still be confident of beating them. Everything now depends on overcoming one of the thoroughbreds of this World Cup who suddenly find themselves lame.

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