The Liverpool striker is rated very unlikely to feature against the Central Americans and may miss much of the group stage, but his teammates should still secure a win.World Cup specialist Uruguay heads into its opening match of the 2014 tournament against Costa Rica at Castelao, Fortaleza with hopes of improving on the third-placed finish it achieved in South Africa four years ago and replicating the 1950 success at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana that stunned Brazil.
Oscar Tabarez’s side, however, heads into the tournament under something of a cloud, with star striker Luis Suarez rated doubtful for much of the group stage. A knee injury means the 27-year-old, who top-scored in the CONMEBOL qualifiers with 11 strikes and the Premier League last season with 31 goals, is extremely unlikely to play against the Central Americans and may even miss the second fixture against England next week.
Uruguay will likely be at full strength otherwise. Despite Suarez’s absence, it boasts a side of formidable experience, with Diego Forlan, who missed training on Wednesday due to a slight illness, expected to lend the benefit of his 110 caps to a unit that has not changed greatly since the impressive campaign four years ago. Indeed, it is fitting that such an unaltered side should be led by Tabarez, who is the longest-serving coach at the World Cup with eight years’ experience in his role.
For Costa Rica, which will be at full strength aside from fullback Heiner Mora - who has a broken heel - and experienced forward Alvaro Saborio, there are mixed omens. While it has won two of its three previous World Cup openers, it has lost its three previous matches against South American opposition and has a lamentable recent record at the finals, where it is on a four-game losing streak.
At this level its defense has been particularly fallible against quality opponents, with nine goals conceded last time it qualified in Germany 2006, while Uruguay - which Costa Rica has never beaten - accounted for them at the playoff stages prior to South Africa. To make matters worse, recent form has been no better, with four defeats in its last six games overall.
If the Ticos are to progress past the group stage for just a second time - having reached the last 16 at Italia 90 - this is an area they will inevitably have to tighten up. But with Uruguay, Italy and England all predominantly counterattacking sides, this could give them just a little cause for optimism.