When Colombia squares off against Uruguay in the round of 16 on Saturday, both teams will be missing their talismanic striker. While Colombia’s players have been playing well in the absence of Radamel Falcao, who was forced to withdraw from the tournament after tearing his ACL in January, Uruguay has just lost Luis Suarez, the enigmatic Liverpool striker whom FIFA banned for nine international games and four months for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during the last game of the group phase earlier this week. To a great extent, the AP says the winner of Saturday’s clash will be the team that copes best.
So far, at least, you would have to give Colombia, which sailed through Group C, finishing first, the edge. "Something really important has taken place," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said when asked about his squad. "I think everyone who knows soccer knows Falcao. ... He is one of the reasons we are playing in this World Cup. But the players have reacted in a positive way. For me, as a coach, this proves that my players have a strong character because they have played very well and shown wonderful performances."
Added veteran defender Mario Yepes: "It is going to be a difficult match, very difficult, because we have had the opportunity of watching Uruguay's matches during the World Cup, and we have seen it is a difficult team (to play)."