On Friday, at their respective training camps, Luis Suarez, Radamel Falcao, and Cristiano Ronaldo, the engines of Uruguay, Colombia, and Portugal, respectively, were seen fighting to get in shape for World Cup 2014 as they recuperate from injuries important enough to keep them off the pitch if the games were to be played today.
It is only 13 days until the opening match of Brazil's World Cup, but for the three recuperating superstars the later dates of their first game starts may spell the difference between being fit for action and having to sit out matches at the tournament in Brazil.
Today in Buenos Aires, Falcao worked out with his squad ahead of Argentine coach Jose Peckerman's June 1st decision on his 23-man roster. Falcao's dream recuperation target date is June 14 when Colombia opens their cup participation with a game against Greece. But that may be too early a deadline for the striker to comfortably make.
His serious injury, suffered in January, normally requires six months of recuperation and that would mean he would just be ready to play by the time he would need to be in top form for his team. Videos of the training, aired in Colombia and Argentina, seemed to show the striker doing stretching exercises, passing the ball and jogging. Peckerman is trying to give him every opportunity to make the trip across the border. Falcao is well ahead of in recuperation schedule. But the Monaco star is also well aware of what it will take for him to participate next month.
"The closer the World Cup gets, the more I am thinking I don’t want to be just watching in Brazil. I have worked hard to make sure that is not going to be the case but with an injury it’s not just how hard you work, it’s also how patient and calm you can be."
Ronaldo, in Portugal with his team, has not joined them at practice since arriving at the camp's hotel early yesterday. He has remained in the hotel receiving treatments for his left leg and is not going to participate in tomorrow's friendly against Greece. Despite the continued official Portuguese line that the striker's injury is not a concern, fans saw a diminished Cristiano play the Champions League finals and they are now witnessing his slow climb toward form.
Asked yesterday, at the Portuguese camp, about his star's struggles, coach Paulo Bento said: "What I don't want to do is put any sort of pressure...we are not setting any deadlines. The player's well being comes first. We believe Ronaldo will be ready for our game with Germany, but we will consider every possible scenario in our preparation."
Meanwhile, in Montevideo, Uruguay, today, Suarez and the national team staff are already conceding that he may not be ready for the team's opening game against Costa Rica but that with the extra time he may be ready for the following match against England.
The star striker injured his left knee as a result of a collision with Newcastle United's Paul Dummett on the final day of the season. He did not feel any major discomfort until he was back home and then found that he needed keyhole surgery on his meniscus. He got operated last week and the early prognosis, that he could miss the World Cup altogether, was soon revised. He was told he could recover in time to make Uruguay's second game, a prospect the striker had hoped would be off by several days so he could make it to the first match.
Atletico Madrid defensive stalwart, Diego Godin, spoke with Suarez today and told the gathered press that his teammate "is very optimistic" about his pace of recuperation. The chief of the Uruguayan medical staff, Alberto Pan, seemed optimistic himself. He declared that Suarez was "progressing ahead of expectations."
In short, the three stars should be able to participate in this summer's World Cup, but only time will tell us just what form they will attain by the opening whistle of their respective target matches.