Luis Suarez is expected to make his return to international duty against Brazil on Friday, March 25, after serving a nine-match ban for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup (h/t Goal).
The date of the 2018 World Cup qualifier between Uruguay and Brazil was moved from March 24 to March 25, with Suarez hoping to make a timely comeback and aid his country’s campaign hopes.
It’s been more than 18 months since Suarez was handed a nine-match ban as well as a four-month suspension from all football activity in relation to what was the third biting incident of his career.
The Barcelona talisman’s return could hardly be better timed as far as Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez is concerned, with his team currently second in CONMEBOL qualifying, two points ahead of Brazil.
Uruguay’s only defeat of the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign thus far came against leaders Ecuador in November, and that 2-1 loss also happened to produce the only goals Tabarez’s men have conceded.
Controversial forward Suarez has been in stellar form at the Camp Nou this season after netting 31 goals in 32 games for the Blaugrana, the latest of which came in Friday evening’s 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid.
The South American is once again steering Luis Enrique’s side to a serious La Liga title challenge, and there’s a good chance he’ll come up against club team-mate Neymar in the March encounter with the Selecao.
Even without Suarez in the squad, Uruguay have amassed the best goals record in CONMEBOL qualification, scoring a joint-high nine goals while conceding a joint-low two, both level with Ecuador.
La Celeste can hope to make a dart for pole position should they beat Brazil next month considering Ecuador have tough fixtures against Paraguay (home) and Colombia (away) next on their agenda.
In hindsight, Suarez’s nine-match break from the national team may come to have a rejuvenating effect on not only him but also the squad as a whole, with undoubtedly their best asset back and raring to go.
Spending time away from his international team-mates may have worked in giving Suarez new drive and ambition to succeed in the national team as he does with Barcelona, and Brazil will be the first nation in his sights.
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