There's been a lot of drama surrounding the Uruguayan team in the last few days, but La Celeste will have to get past all of that if they are to have any chance of beating an in-form Colombian team on Saturday during the 2014 World Cup round of 16.
As reported by HLN's Kristof Terreur, striker Luis Suarez will be banned for four months and nine international matches following a biting incident with Giorgio Chiellini:
Luis Suárez banned for nine games and four-month ban from all football. He won't even be allowed in a stadium, when Uruguay are playing— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) June 26, 2014
While the Uruguayan federation can appeal, it won't impact Suarez's availability for the remainder of the World Cup. With that out of the way, it's time to focus on football.
Date: Saturday, June 28
Time: 9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
The big news is obviously the absence of Suarez and how it will impact Uruguay's tactics ahead of this match.
La Celeste were so upset over losing their star forward, they reportedly even considered not playing at all, according to Uruguayan media (h/t to Rafael Hernandez):
Uruguay Representative claims the federation is considering not playing vs Colombia because of the Suárez ban. [@vickydavilalafm]— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) June 26, 2014
Diego Forlan is the most likely replacement for the Liverpool striker, having already replaced him during Uruguay's opening fixture against Costa Rica.
Captain Diego Lugano was very critical of Italian defender Chiellini in the wake of the Suarez incident, as reported by Marca:
The images don't show anything, it was a tussle. We saw the photo of Chiellini. What was his name again? Chielllini?
They are old scars, anyone stupid can realise that, you have to be really stupid not to realise they are old scars. Italy were loyal to their history, they were very physical and time wasted like there was no tomorrow, it's part of the game and we respect that. But if Chiellini comes out and accuses Suarez after the game, we won't respect him for that.
His message clearly had little effect on FIFA's decision, and it is now vital for the Uruguayan team to get over this incident and focus on the task at hand.
Colombia rested a number of key players in their final group match against Japan and still cruised to an easy victory. James Rodriguez has been in deadly form, and he'll return to the starting XI against Uruguay.
The same goes for Mario Yepes, whose presence in the heart of the defensive unit has been massive for Colombia so far. The centre-back told reporters his team has to be aware Uruguay pose a major threat, per Super Scores:
I believe that Uruguay are a difficult opponent and should be respected as we did with our group rivals.
It is a team that has more history than us, but we must prepare ourselves to face them in a good way because here there is no turning back.
Jackson Martinez may have scored his way into the team's starting XI thanks to his brace against Japan, while Juan Cuadrado will once again be counted on to provide plenty of feed from the wing.
Don't be mistaken—Uruguay are a wounded animal. Suarez is one of the world's top strikers, and replacing such a player is nearly impossible. But his ban will have an even bigger impact on his teammates on an emotional level.
Uruguay have been in unison in their comments backing up Suarez, and they will feel like FIFA have it in for them with this ban. It offers the rest of the team a chance to rally, going out for this match with an "us against the world" mentality.
They'll need every bit of emotional motivation they can find to overcome a Colombian team seemingly scoring at will. The movement out wide has been excellent, but the biggest surprise has perhaps been the defensive solidity. Yepes plays a big part in that, and if he's healthy, Colombia have the potential to make a deep run.
Much of the focus will be on avoiding drama and emotion for Colombia. Uruguay's best chance will be turning this match into a scrappy affair, knocking Colombia off their game and giving Edinson Cavani a chance to make the difference as an individual.
For Colombia, simply sticking to their strengths will do. Possession-based football, penetration from the wings and lots of shots on goal are powerful weapons, and they're all part of Colombia's arsenal.