While playing for Real Zaragoza, Chilean forward Humberto Suazo suffered a shoulder injury against Real Madrid. That injury occurred in the next-to-last match of the La Liga campaign. Ever since, El Chupete has not been fully healthy, with a hamstring injury threatening the Chilean star's fitness for South Africa.
Suazo suffered the hamstring injury in last Sunday's friendly against Israel and was feared gone for three weeks. Now, it appears Suazo could be back for La Roja's second group stage match (against Switzerland), though in a group where three evenly matched teams are battling for second behind Spain, missing the opening match against Honduras could be an irrevocable blow.
True, Chile has other stars, particularly Alexis Sanchez on the right wing, who has a better goal-scoring rate than El Chupete. But Suazo is the key to Marcelo Bielsa's attack - the one player who can play (and play well) in the central forward's role in Bielsa's 3-3-1-3. The Monterrey striker is a bit of a South American Rooney, and just as Manchester United would miss Rooney's ancillary skills as much as his goal scoring should he pick-up an injury, Chile would be left with a myriad of issues in the absence of their Monterrey star.
If all goes well for Chile, those issues won't extend beyond the first match. Only missing Honduras would be an improvement on the diagnosis received last week, and considering there was momentary discussion that the treatment Suazo'd been receiving could lead to a doping ban, El Chupete's return for Switzerland would be a bad news, good news scenario: good news, you will have Suazo; back news, it may be too late.
In Suazo's place, Esteban Paredes is expected to start for Chile. The team opens their 2010 World Cup on June 16 in Nelspruit.