Colombia has coped nicely with the loss of Radamel Falcao, who was ruled out with an injury before the tournament even started, cruising through Group C with three victories and nine goals.
As for Uruguay, well, unless you’re living under a rock you know what their plight is in dealing with the loss of Luis Suarez, who was suspended Thursday by FIFA for nine international matches for biting Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy in their final Group D game. The Sky Blue struggled mightily without Suarez, who sat out with an injury in their tournament opener, a 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica.
UPSET URUGUAY: News of Suarez’s suspension hasn’t been received all-too well in his home country, in spite of the fact that this is the Liverpool star’s third biting incident. Uruguay’s soccer federation said it planned to appeal the ban, which will not only keep him out of the rest of the World Cup but also next year’s Copa America.
Federation president Wilmar Valdez said he feels like Uruguay has been “thrown out of the World Cup.” And throngs of fans, including President Jose Mujica, gathered at Montevideo’s airport Thursday to greet Suarez, although he is reportedly still in Brazil. Support for Suarez has even come from outside his country with Argentine legend Diego Maradona saying on Venezuela’s Telesur network that “this is football, this is incidental contact.”
#URU President Mujica used radio address to describe Suarez sanction as `a monstrous aggression, not just for a man but also for a country.'— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) June 27, 2014
NO FALCAO, NO PROBLEM: Colombia has already proven that they have more than enough firepower to deal with the loss of their star goalscorer. Monaco playmaker James Rodriguez has become the focal point of Los Cafeteros’ attack, scoring three goals and recording two assists in the group stage.
PARTY POOPERS: Colombians will have to temper their merrymaking surrounding the big game, with authorities in the country’s major cities once again imposing bans on alcohol and curfews for minors Saturday. Colombia’s national police Gen. Jorge Nieto told The Associated Press that thousands of extra officers would be on the streets of Bogota and other cities when Colombia takes on Uruguay. Medellin and Barranquilla are among the few major cities bucking the trend, so now you know where the party’s at.
Alcohol ban Thursday in Bogota, Colombia, after violence following previous match pic.twitter.com/cGfz6ISJLH— Chuck Culpepper (@ChuckCulpepper1) June 19, 2014
NO LOVE LOST: The South American rivals have had some interesting matchups lately, with four red cards in their last six meetings and 19 goals in those games. Colombia, in fact, haven’t lost a match since their 2-0 defeat to Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier in September last year.
THE STAR YOU KNOW
- James Rodriguez, forward, Colombia – The 22-year-old came into the tournament as a somewhat of an unknown, but has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom in the absence of Falcao. A true playmaking No. 10 in head coach Jose Pekerman’s attack, Rodriguez has scored or been involved in more than half of Colombia’s goals in the group stage.
THE PLAYER WHO WILL SURPRISE YOU