Photo: Getty Images
Colombia and Uruguay face each other in the last 16 in a test of which team can cope better without their star striker.
Uruguay are reeling following Luis Suarez’s suspension for biting Giorgio Chiellini in the 1-0 win over Italy in their final Group D game, Greg Stobart writes in goal.com.
From the high of reaching the second round with that narrow victory in Natal, Oscar Tabarez’s side must refocus following the blow of losing Suarez, their main man and most significant scoring threat.
Suarez, who is banned from international football for nine matches, will not even be allowed in the Maracana on Saturday to watch his team-mates try to reach the quarter-final without him.
Uruguay struggled badly without Suarez in the 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica in their World Cup opener, but Edinson Cavani will look to step up and lead the attack, with either Diego Forlan or Gaston Ramirez likely to come in.
The defence stayed rock solid at the back, with match winner Diego Godin particularly impressive, and they will have to repeat that display to keep out a Colombia team attacking with style and speed.
Even without the injured Radamel Falcao, Colombia have been one of the teams of the tournament and won Group C cruising to victory in all three matches, scoring nine goals in the process.
Jose Pekerman. Photo: Getty Images
Colombia have not lost a match since their 2-0 defeat to Uruguay in September last year and come into the game with fresh legs after the likes of James Rodriguez and Mario Yepes were rested from the start in the 4-1 win over Japan last time out.
Yepes is expected to recover from a hamstring injury to start at the Maracana while Jackson Martinez is pushing for a start after scoring two goals against Japan.