Fortaleza plays host to the group D fixture between Uruguay and Costa Rica. Both American sides are expected to play second fiddle to England and Italy in the group, and would look to make their mark in a tough group and start off in the best possible way.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Uruguay will be without Premier League Player of the Year Luis Suarez. He will be a big miss, but they have last World Cup’s Golden Ball Diego Forlan to step up in Suarez’s absence. A fearsome prospect, Forlan, but he is well past his prime and Uruguay’s main threat will revolve around the prolific Edinson Cavani who looks all set to finally start in his favoured forward role. Coach Oscar Tabarez is one of the longest-serving coaches in the World Cup, and he will probably field a flat 4-4-2, with grit more than guile the feature of their midfield.

Costa Rica’s main threat going forward will be the tricky Joel Campbell, as they will bet on Levante’s impressive goalkeeper Keylor Navas to keep things at bay at the back. Coach Jorge Luis Pinto prefers a defensive-minded setup with special emphasis on counter-attacking transitional football, as he will look to keep out Uruguay’s fearsome forwards away with a five-man defence.

KEY BATTLES

Forlan and Cavani against the Costa Rican defence

By the looks of it, Costa Rica will have ideas of parking the bus and it could be an exercise in patience for Cavani and Forlan to break them down. Costa Rica will defend deep, and without the tricky Luis Suarez, Uruguay could find it incredibly difficult to get past massed ranks. Forlan and Cavani will have to be at their elements and will probably need to get more direct with their shots tonight.

Costa Rica’s counter-attack

Uruguay normally defend deep which could again be seen tonight. But with their full-backs Maxi Perreira and Martin Caceres motoring up field, Costa Rica could sense some openings down the flanks in transitions. Christian Bolanos is their playmaker, and if he could supply the balls forward to set up quick counters through Campbell, he sluggish and cynical Diego Lugano could be caught out. Diego Godin and Lugano are assets at set-pieces, and this is where Costa Rica could hurt Uruguay badly when both their full-backs are ahead and the ball breaks loose. Bryan Ruiz isn’t the most clinical finisher around, but his finesse and set-piec expertise could come in handy.

VERDICT

One of the less glamorous affairs, rendered even lesser by Suarez’s absence, Uruguay will be cruising against a weak Costa Rica and could be leading the group based on the result of the England-Italy game. Edinson Cavani an Forlan should get into the scoresheet, with Uruguay winning easily 3-0.

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