Suarez and Cavani may not be enough for Uruguay
Montevideo: The twin talents of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will ensure that 2011 Copa America champions Uruguay have one of the most potent strike forces at the World Cup finals.
But while the two-time World Cup winners are certain to cause problems for Group D rivals Italy, England and Costa Rica, the South Americans will be anxious to shore up a suspect defence.
The 2010 semi-finalists leaked 25 goals during 16 qualifying games, where the lack of pace of skipper Diego Lugano, 33, and his central defence partner Diego Godin was frequently exposed.
The form of Lugano, who had a testing first season in England with Premier League strugglers West Bromwich Albion, is of particular concern for coach Oscar Tabarez, who will be loathe to drop his experienced captain so close to the tournament.
Uruguay only scraped into the finals via a play-off victory over Asian minnows Jordan, following a tense qualifying campaign which saw them finish fifth in the South American standings.
Had it not been for the heroics of Suarez during the qualifying campaign, Uruguay might even have struggled to reach the play-off.
Time and again the Liverpool striker rescued his country -- most notably with two goals in the crucial 2-1 victory over Peru in Lima last September -- and he finished the South American qualifiers as top scorer with 11 goals.
Tabarez believes that Suarez, infamously sent off in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final against Ghana for a deliberate handball which denied the Africans victory, has emerged a stronger player following the various controversies which have disrupted his career.
Since the last World Cup he has served lengthy bans in England for racially abusing Manchester United opponent Patrice Evra before then being hit with a 10-game suspension last year for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.
"He`s come up through the Under-20s team and we introduced him to the senior team in 2008," Tabarez told reporters during a get together of World Cup coaches in Brazil earlier this year.
"Since then he`s evolved a lot, both in terms of his game and his competitive attitude. Maybe it`s because of the problems he`s had in England. He`s come through difficult times. He`s got a strong head."
Suarez`s international strike partner Cavani believes his team-mate is in the perfect frame of mind for the World Cup.
"When I speak with him now, it sounds like a different man," the Paris Saint-Germain striker said in February. "You can hear in his voice he is happy."
As well as Cavani and Suarez, Tabarez has other attacking options, notably the midfield playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro.
The 25-year-old Botafogo player had a World Cup to forget in 2010, when he was sent off against France in Uruguay`s opening game, but has since established himself as an important member of Tabarez`s squad.