Liverpool forward Luis Suarez has been in sensational form this season since returning from a lengthy suspension last month. He was expected to be a major player for Uruguay in their World Cup playoff against Jordan in Amman.
In the end, Suarez was a relatively minor figure in what was ultimately a comfortable 5-0 away victory for La Celeste that should afford a comfortable passage to next summer's finals in next week's second leg.
Indeed, his most notable contribution to the game was to miss a golden chance in the opening minutes and to fall dramatically in the penalty area without success. However, that is not to say he had a bad game—he just didn't make a huge impact.
Against unfancied opposition, Tabarez went to an attacking variation of 4-2-2, with Christian Stuani pushing high on the right and Cristian Rodriguez dropping a touch deeper on the left. Attacking midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro then joined Arevalo Rios in midfield.
The result was that Suarez was used as a second striker, playing off target man Edinson Cavani on one of the few occasions the pair has been used as a duo for their country.
In the early stages, the Liverpool man seemed really to take to the role. Suarez was well positioned for his missed opportunity and drifted to the flanks on a couple of occasions for early runs at defenders. His attempted passes to colleagues, though, were easily mopped up.
Suarez had a quiet game to be honest.— Adam Eklund (@AdamEklund21) November 13, 2013
After 18 minutes, he would drop deeper and begin the move that led to Maxi Pereira's opening goal—feeding the ball to Stuani on the right, whose cross found Cavani and was eventually turned home by the Benfica full-back following a dramatic save.
Suarez again made inroads from the flank just a few minutes later, this time charging in from the right past a couple of players before falling in anticipation of a challenge. Rightfully, his protests were waved away by referee Sven Moen of Norway.
There were further brief flashes of his dribbling technique later in the half, but little was going right on a personal level for Suarez and, at times, he was a touch selfish when he should have released the ball.
Once Uruguay were comfortable, the game lost any form of tactical intrigue. Tabarez's side were comfortable and his decision to attack fully justified. There is, perhaps, life to a central partnership of Suarez and Cavani, but whether it will be attempted at the World Cup remains to be seen.
Cavani had the better evening of the pair, setting up two goals before curling a free-kick into the top corner in the final moments.
As for Uruguay, 99.9% certain that Cavani, Suarez and co will be celebrating qualification in front of their fans in Montevideo— SandalsForGoalposts (@Sandal4Goalpost) November 13, 2013
Everybody is aware of what Suarez is capable of, however, and given his recent form, a drop off in his sensational levels was always going to come at some point.
Given Uruguay's victory, their fans will care little, while Liverpool supporters will hope he is now rested ahead of next week's return leg and returns to Anfield in peak condition in just over seven days' time.