Suarez is the English Premier League Player of the Year, but fitness is being closely monitored. He underwent meniscus surgery on his left knee May 22 and has not played since.
If Suarez cannot go, veteran Diego Forlan -- winner of the Golden Ball four years ago top player of the tournament – will pair with Edison Cavani up front. Forlan, 35, missed a few sessions earlier with week with an upset stomach but trained on Thursday. Coach Oscar Tabarez must also choose between Cristian Stuani or Gaston Ramirez on the right wing.
In what is predicted to be a tight group the margins of victory could be decisive. Goal difference is the first tiebreaker, and by starting off with the group minnow Uruguay will want to win comfortably if at all possible. It cannot afford to look too far ahead to its games against the European powers and take a Concacaf opponent too lightly.
Costa Rica’s exuberant, skillful team is well-suited to the spoiler role, though the absence of striker Alvaro Saborio and defender Bryan Oviedo deprives it of two crucial pieces. It also lost defender Heiner Mora earlier this week when he suffered a broken heel during a training session and replaced him with Dave Myrie.
The young England squad chosen by Roy Hodgson has atypically tamped down expectations, though the presence of veterans Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney alongside talents such as Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling certainly gives England a foundation of talent and experience.
Italian coach Cesare Prandelli, while reliant as ever on playmaker Andres Pirlo and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, has infused his squad with the likes of forwards Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne and defender Matteo Darmian. Wiorld-class veterans Pirlo and Buffon were key members of the World Cup-winning team in 2006 and both were rendered non-factors by injuries at the 2010 tournament in which Italy stumbled home after group play.
“It goes without saying that players like Pirlo and Buffon are essential to any coach, because they have so much quality to offer and the right attitude, but it’s also great to have the enthusiasm and creativity offered by the younger players, who’ve always dreamed of playing in the World Cup,” said Prandelli “They bring a little bit of exuberance to the team and they can do the unexpected. We’ve freshened up the team and that’s exactly what we’re looking for at this World Cup.”
Italian defender Mattia De Sciglio suffered a strained thigh during a
training session Thursday and will not be available to face England. The injury is minor and Italy has no plans to replace him on the roster. (FIFA permits an emergency replacement if a player suffers
an injury more than 24 hours before a team’s opening group game.) Midfielder Marco Verratti has recovered from a bout with the flu and thus Prandelli has all of his players available
except for De Sciglio.
WORLD CUP: Complete 2014 Viewing Schedule
Saturday, June 14 | Recife: Arena Pernambuco | Referee: Enrique Osses (Chile).
TV: ESPN, Univision/UDN 9 p.m. ET
Ivory Coast finally got a break after, in their first two World Cup appearances of 2006 and 2010, having to cope with the Netherlands and Argentina, and Brazil and Portugal and exiting in the first round.
Yaya Toure scored four goals in six qualifiers for Ivory Coast and was the EPL’s third leading scorer with 20 goals for champion Manchester City. The 36-year-old Didier Drogba aims to add to his record 65 goals for Les Elephants.
Japan, which reached the second round in 2010, needs to two key players to shake off poor seasons with their clubs: Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United) and Keisuke Honda (AC Milan). Shinji Okazaki, who scored 15 goals last season in Germany for Mainz, was Asia’s leading scorer in World Cup qualifying, and struck against Mexico and Italy during at the Confederations Cup.
June 15 in Brasilia
Group E: Switzerland vs. Ecuador
ABC, Univision/UDN noon ET
June 15 in Porto Alegre
Group E: France vs. Honduras
ABC, Univision/UDN 3 p.m. ET
June 15 in Rio de Janeiro
Group F: Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herze.
ESPN, Univision/UDN 6 p.m. ET
WORLD CUP: 503 Places to Watch