Luis Suarez’s Uruguay are a wounded animal to be feared. After an abject, soulless performance against Costa Rica to open Group D, Uruguay were tenacious if not spectacular in beating England. They are a dangerous proposition for Colombia in the second round because they are at their best when operating under an Alex Ferguson-esque siege mentality.
Whilst the rest of the world vilified Luis Suarez for a third biting offense, Uruguayan coach Oscar Tabarez and captain Diego Lugano resolutely defended their star man. As recorded by Yahoo Sports, Tabarez condemned the “holier-than-thou” approach of the European media: “this is a football World Cup, not of cheap morality.”
Lugano meanwhile, went as far as to deny that the bite took place. Indeed, The Independent quoted him remarking: “What incident? The footage doesn't show anything, you can speculate from it but it's nothing important.” Going further, he added, as per goal.com:
I've watched the incident again and I saw nothing. ... I've seen the picture of Chiellini. That scar isn't from today's game. You have to be very stupid to believe that scar is from now.
Suarez had been repentant after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April 2013, but showed no remorse after the incident with Giorgio Chiellini on Tuesday. As per The Daily Mail, Suarez noted in a post-match interview that: “These things happen on the pitch, and we don't have to give them so much (importance).”
All this points to a Uruguayan camp intent on solidarity above all else. Uruguay do not play the dazzling football of many of their South American counterparts, but they pride themselves on one thing above all: They are winners. For a country now with a population of just 3.5 million, Uruguay’s impressive footballing roll of honour is testament to their indomitable attitude.
Nothing will spur them on more than a sense of injustice, and Uruguay will need no additional words of motivation on Saturday in the Maracana against Colombia. With all the vitriol surrounding Suarez and Uruguay, Colombia themselves have wisely kept themselves out of the spotlight. Colombian captain Mario Alberto Yepes was asked by a Brazilian journalist what he would do if Suarez bit him, to which he laughed and said he did not know.
Tactically, Uruguay will hope to destabilise a Colombia team playing as fluently as any at the World Cup. Expect strong challenges and resolute defending. In addition, the teams do have some acrimonious history. In a bad-tempered 2010 World Cup qualifier in Montevideo, Uruguay’s Carlos Valdez was sent off for a dangerous lunge, and Teofilo Gutierrez of Colombia saw red for a petulant kick.
Uruguay will want to keep the game as scrappy as possible, and will use their strength of character and the added motivation of the Suarez affair, to try and propel them into the last eight.