The World Cup kicks off in less than a week, and a lot of teams are getting some pretty devastating news about some very key players. While some teams are strong enough to overcome injuries to their top players, but some are not. Originally, I was going to profile several injured stars, but then I got started talking about Luis Suárez and things got a little long. Below is what was supposed to be a short couple of paragraphs about Súarez’s injury, and Uruguay’s prospects for replacing their star striker if he is unable to play in Brazil… I’ll leave it untouched. Enjoy.
Well, you knew I was going to talk about this one, didn’t you? The best player on my favorite team is currently out recovering from the arthroscopic knee surgery he had on May 22nd. At the time of his surgery, the optimistic, best case scenario was that he could be healthy and ready to go in 15-20 days. The surgery happened 23 days before Uruguay’s first scheduled Group Stage game (Saturday, June 14), so even the best case scenario is cutting it pretty close.
On Friday, it was reported that Suárez worked out for about 25 minutes on the pitch for the first time since the surgery. The Liverpool striker did some stretching and light jogging, and reports are that he came out of it just fine. Head coach Óscar “El Maestro” Tabárez said, “So far, so good, and that gives us hope that he will continue improving.”a That being said, there’s still speculation that Suárez won’t be healthy in time for that first game against Costa Rica. If that’s the case, is Uruguay in trouble?
The answer is yes and no. If Suárez can’t make it to the Costa Rica game, that won’t be the biggest deal. They still have a strong defense and have plenty of firepower up front as well. Before we start talking about replacements for Suárez, let’s talk about his tag team partner–Edinson Cavani (pictured above). Cavani, who had somewhat of a down season for Paris Saint-Germain of France Ligue 1 but is a former 40 goal scorer for Napoli in the Italian Serie A, is a legit talent that has been a bit overshadowed by Súarez. He does have 21 career goals in 62 games for Uruguat, so if Súarez can’t go, Cavani might take on the challenge.
Even if Cavani takes over and makes this World Cup his, “La Celeste,” as Uruguay is known, will still have to replace Suárez on the pitch. They have to have a somewhat viable second option, or defenses will swarm Cavani like bees on honey. One guy I think really could step up big is Cristian Stuani of RCD Espanyol of La Liga in Spain. Stuani, 27, made his international debut in 2012 and has played 10 games for Uruguay. He scored twice during the qualifying period–once in Uruguay’s home win against Colombia, and once in their 5-0 drubbing of Jordan in the first leg of the playoffs. He has also scored in both of Uruguay’s warmup friendlies–the only goal in the 1-0 win against Northern Ireland, and the second goal in the 2-0 win against Slovenia.
There’s another player on the 23-man roster that could be called upon if Súarez can’t go, and that is 23-year old Palermo (Serie A) striker Abel Hernández. Hernández, known to us Uruguayans as “La Joya (the Jewel),” made his international debut in a 2010 friendly against Angola, drawing a penalty that led to a goal and scoring another of his own in stoppage time in a 2-0 win for Uruguay. Hernández made a big splash in last year’s Confederations Cup, becoming only the fourth player in Confederations Cup history to score four goals in one game–against Tahiti in a game Uruguay won 8-0. I know Tahiti was very overmatched in that tournament, but four goals is four goals.
I haven’t even mentioned one obvious replacement for Súarez yet, and that’s the 2010 World Cup Golden Ball winner Diego Forlán. Forlán, who is currently playing for Cerezo Osaka of the J League first division, is definitely in the swan song of his career now that he’s 35. Does he have another performance like he had in 2010 left in the tank? No. He should not be a starting option if Suárez can’t go. That being said, if used appropriately as a late minute sub, he might have a couple of magical kicks left in those old legs of his.
Anyway, nobody wants to have to replace one of the best players in the world. If everything goes well, Suárez will return in time for the Group Stage (at least the last two games) and this post will have been a waste of my time. If something goes wrong with his recovery, however, the team certainly has options that might get them through the Group Stage. How far beyond that they can go is anyone’s guess.
Featured image courtesy of: Reuters
Hernández image courtesy of: Matilde Campodonico/Associated Press
Stuani image courtesy of: Tenfield
- http://www.usnews.com/news/sports/articles/2014/06/06/suarez-jogs-on-field-for-first-time-since-surgery (back)
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