Uruguay have been dealt with a major set-back prior to their Copa America Centernario opener against Mexico as Barcelona forward and Europe’s top striker from last season Luis Suarez has been ruled out for the game with injury.
Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez has confirmed the news on Saturday claiming that Barcelona striker is not ready.
The 29-year-old suffered a right hamstring injury in the second half of Barcelona’s Copa del Rey final against Sevilla two weeks ago when he limped off in tears fearing that he would miss Uruguay’s entire Copa America Centenario campaign.
“Suarez is a player who always surprises us with his recovery, but he is not ready yet”, said Tabarez.
It’s been 14 days since Suarez’ injury and Uruguay head coach could not put a timeframe on his return. Barcelona man will not be considered until he is at 100 percent and his absence will indeed be a huge blow for the team.
Long season behind Luis Suarez
Uruguay international has had a long season at Barcelona.
Having made 35 starts for the Catalan club, Luis Suarez went on to score 40 La Liga goals confirming his excellent scoring form. The 29-year-old has reached his peak and it is fair to say that Suarez is playing in life form at the moment.
His debut campaign with the Catalan giants has been a frustrating one as Luis Suarez’s time on the pitch was reduced to 27 games due to his 2014 FIFA World Cup ban following the biting incident with Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Suarez nevertheless scored 16 goals announcing that he would be a major signing for Camp Nou outfit.
His tally of 40 goals this season has so far been the highest ever in his professional career. He came close to matching the 40-goal margin in 2009-10 season when he scored 35 goals in his third season with Dutch giants Ajax.
Suarez’s excellent season has been extended to five more goals in the Copa del Rey and eight more in the UEFA Champions League. The Uruguay international has finished the season with 59 goals in 52 appearances across all competitions which helped Barcelona striker beat Cristiano Ronaldo to the European Golden Shoe.
In addition to his individual accolades, Luis Suarez also won La Liga, Copa del Rey, the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup with Barcelona. Uruguay international planned to complete his stellar season with a Copa America Centenario triumph with Uruguay and his tears over that hamstring injury are understandable.
Can Uruguay cope without their key man?
Oscar Tabarez’s team have been pitted in Group C together with Venezuela, Jamaica and Mexico, who are considered favourites to progress to the knockouts alongside La Celeste.
If these two teams make it through to the next stage of the competition as it is expected, they would likely face the prospect of locking horns with Argentina or Chile in the quarter-finals.
According to unconfirmed reports from the Uruguay camp, Luis Suarez may not feature until the quarter-final stage and his return is likely to be a big timely boost for La Celeste, who are expected to survive the group stage despite the absence of their star performer.
Uruguay are more than one-man show and Edinson Cavani is expected to fulfil the key role in Suarez’s absence. Paris Saint-Germain striker has scored 32 goals for hi country and could go on to enjoy the Copa America Centenario spell following a mixed season with his club.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the main man in Paris, Cavani has played the second fiddle for much of his time in France. However, as the towering Swede has packed his bags following the end of his contract, Uruguay international is likely to be given more freedom in attack which could come as a morale-boost for his nation as well.
Uruguay should still be vary of their initial challenge against El Tri who are on a 19-match unbeaten run though.
What is more, the group opener is played in Glendale, the city Mexico can call their home with a large Mexican and Mexican-American population.
Mexicans will be comfortable around the familiar surroundings and a huge fan base on the stands, while the record-breaking heat is just another factor working against Uruguay in Sunday’s Copa America Centenario group C opener.
Taking all aspects into consideration we should not be surprised to see Mexico being made firm favourites to claim a win against Uruguay with the odds of 11/8.
Can Uruguay rise above the challenge and win their Copa America Centenario opener without Luis Suarez?