World Cup - Injuries forcing roster decisions

Published Tuesday, June 3, 2014 11:50 AM by Shane Barrow
World Cup - Injuries forcing roster decisions

With the World Cup only days away from kicking off in Brazil several countries are dealing with injury blows that are forcing changes to their roster and lineups.  With more warmup matches in the coming days we should expect to hear more unfortunate injury news.  Can these squads get past these injuries to have a successful run in South America?

One of the most significant pre-World Cup injuries was suffered on the weekend when Italian general Riccardo Montolivo was lost to a broken leg very early on in a friendly with Ireland at Craven Cottage in England.  The match went 0-0, but few cared about the scoreline after losing the important midfielder.  He will be almost impossible to replace.  The Montolivo injury comes on the heels of news that talented striker Giuseppe Rossi will not be fit and was left off the final roster.  The Italians still have plenty of firepower up front though with the likes of Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Torino strike partners Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci.

There is an injury crisis with Croatia.  They have lost the likes of Hamburg's Milan Badelj and Ivo Ilicevic, QPR's Niko Kranjcar and Ivan Strinic of Ukraine's Dnipro.  They will still be a difficult out though with attacking talents the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Miralem Pjanic, Mateo Kovacic, Mario Mandzukic and Nikica Jelavic.

It was hard to watch on Saturday.  A player that was coming into his own and clearly in form going down to a nasty broken leg.  Such was the fate of El Tri midfielder Luis Montes in their tuneup against Ecuador at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.  It happened only minutes after Montes had opened the scoring with a perfect curling strike.  Mexico has the depth to replace Montes, but most likely not at the same level of production Montes offered.

It has been an eventful runup to the World Cup for the Germans.  Speed racing crashes involving Draxler and Hoewedes.  Coach Joachim Loew having his license suspended for speeding on the Autobahn.  The injury loss of Lars Bender was also quite the blow. At least no new bad news arrived over the weekend.  In fact, the squad is actually getting fitter.  Important players Neuer, Schweinsteiger, Lahm and Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira are all working their way back.  The problem is that none are anywhere near match fit and with only days left until the World Cup it is doubtful any will be ready to go a full 90 other than goalkeeper Neuer.  It could offer a grand opportunity for Portugal to pull the upset in the opening Group G match.

All the attention has been on Radamel Falcao's status lately, but just as big of news came that Colombia would be without Edwin Valencia.  His defensive midfield presence will be sorely missed as he allowed the creative likes of James Rodriguez and Juan Guillermo Cuadrado to blossom. "It's a significant blow. Edwin's been such a vital player for Colombia but he's been struggling with an injury for a while and unfortunately there's not enough time for him to recover fully before the tournament begins," coach Jose Pekerman explained.  Meanwhile, Falcao is also a no-go.  He was left out of the final squad announced yesterday and will not be fit to play in Brazil unfortunately.

One man.  Luis Suarez.  Will he be ready or not?  The world is waiting and a long Uruguay run in the tournament hangs in the balance.  If Suarez is not in full form then Uruguay could crash out earlier than expected.

Diego Costa says he will be ready to go.  That is great news for Spain fans and should bolster their chances to win another title.  "I received treatment this week after the Champions League final and it has been a while since I had recovery time. Now I want to train because I have been doing almost nothing for a few weeks, so the only thing that matters to me is to train a bit," Costa said. "Will I be ready for the first match of the World Cup. Of course, why not?"

Franck Ribery is worried a back injury could dampen his World Cup ambitions.  Ribery, 31, has yet to feature in either of his country's warm-up friendlies since joining up with the squad, and underwent tests on the problem in a Paris hospital on Saturday in a bid to help speed his recovery.