San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Group D

Uruguay star Luis Suárez will not start against Costa Rica. Can Ticos take advantage?

FORTALEZA, Brazil — Uruguay coach Óscar Tabárez said he won’t rush Luis Suárez back from a knee injury for his side’s World Cup opener against Costa Rica in Fortaleza on Saturday. Tabárez revealed his starting line-up Friday afternoon. While Suárez is absent, Tabárez said he hasn’t ruled the star striker out as a sub for late in the match.

Suárez had an operation to repair damage to the meniscus in his left knee just three weeks ago and Tabárez is wary of throwing him straight back into the side with seemingly tougher tests against England and Italy to come in Group D.

“Yesterday afternoon Suárez did the most important thing in training, which is play football,” he said. “We don’t want to pressure him in any way, though, we have prepared for this game without Luis. We are very happy with his recovery, but we need to be cautious. There is still a day to go until the game and that for me is a long time because many things can happen, but if nothing changes then I have decided on the team.”

Tabárez confirmed that in the absence of Suárez, Diego Forlán will partner Edison Cavani in attack. Cristian Stuani will start ahead of Gastón Ramírez on the right.

Uruguay were the surprise squad of the World Cup four years ago when they reached the semifinals before narrowly losing out to the Netherlands. Tabárez believes that experience and winning the Copa America in 2011 should make them an even more formidable side this time round.

“In 2010 many of these players were 22 or 23, now they have matured,” he said.

On paper Costa Rica appear to be the potential whipping boys of the group up against three former World Cup winners.

And Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera admitted they need to get off to a good start to ease the pressure.

“We have the ability to go far, but we don’t want to assume the role of favorites because it has never suited us well,” the goalie said. “The first game is always difficult. A good result takes a weight off your shoulders and allows you to look forward.”

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