Copa America: Venezuela Takes on Uruguay Minus Luis Suarez

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Philadelphia finally gets its first game of the Copa America Centenario tournament. Venezuela, currently tied for first with Mexico in Group C, takes on Uruguay at 7:00 ET on Fox Sports 1. It is a game in which both teams have much respect for each other, but one where both teams have something to lose.

Copa America: Venezuela Takes on Uruguay Minus Luis Suarez

Venezuela, as stated above, tied for first in the group. By the skin of their teeth, they held off Jamaica 1-0 thanks to a goal by Josef Martinez of Serie A club Torino. The scoreline could have been bigger but Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake made a tremendous save to keep it a one-goal game. While the win could have easily been a draw, having three points in a group with Mexico and Uruguay is crucial to advancing to the knockout stages.

Venezuela has confidence with those three points. It’s something an underdog team like La Vinotinto needs. Venezuela has nothing but respect and admiration for Uruguay and it shows.

Starting center back Rolf Feltscher comments this about Uruguay:

They are good players. We also have good players on our team. I think now we have to focus on what we need to do. We respect them as players but we also can do what we need to do. We have confidence.”

A loss could mean something bigger than losing first place. It could mean being eliminated from the tournament. They take on Mexico in the group finale, which is probably an even harder matchup than Thursday’s game against La Celeste. Even though Venezuela might not have the big names as Uruguay, they have the hunger and heart to make up for it.

One particular question mark coming into Thursday’s game is: will Luis Suarez make his tournament debut? The Barcelona striker went down in the Copa Del Ray final with a hamstring injury. It was originally reported that the striker was looking to come back by the second game, which would be against Venezuela.

Uruguayan manager Óscar Washington Tabárez says that won’t be the case.

Luis Suarez continues his rehabilitation. It is now in the 17th day. For as long as he continues his rehabilitation, he will not play,” he said.

Uruguayan fans in Philadelphia will be upset, but the good news is that they still have a proven goalscorer to start. Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani is the other striker in the pairing. Cavani is third all-time in the Uruguayan goal scoring list with 32 goals in 82 appearances. He had a hot season in Ligue 1, netting 19 goals in 32 games where superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the head man up top. Middlesbrough striker Christian Stuari through a translator stated that he’d like to play in a game like Thursday’s. He’ll likely be given that opportunity now that Suarez is out.

Uruguay comes into the game with something to prove. On Sunday, the team played Mexico in Glendale, Arizona. Mexico came into the match on a 19-game unbeaten streak with the last nine of those as wins. Their form kept to par as Uruguay suffered a 3-1 loss. An own goal by Alvaro Periera in the fifth minute set the tone for the game. Red cards were shown to Mexico captain Andres Guardado and Uruguay’s Matias Vecino. Center back Diego Godin netted Uruguay’s lone goal.

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