Luis Suarez could face Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi in a crucial World Cup qualifier between Uruguay and Argentina on Thursday (2300GMT) after Barca’s medical team cleared the striker to return from a knee injury.
“The Barca striker has successfully completed the process of recovering his right knee injury under the supervision and coordination of the medical services of the club and the Uruguayan football Association,” Barcelona said in a statement.
Suarez was originally expected to be sidelined for a month when he injured his right knee cap as Barca were soundly beaten 2-0 by Real Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup just two weeks ago.
Uruguay host Argentina in Montevideo with both sides still fighting to secure their place in Russia next year.
Only the top four in the 10-team South American round robin qualify directly with fifth place earning a two-legged playoff against the winners of the Oceania region.
Uruguay sit third, just one point ahead of Argentina in fifth, and also travel to Paraguay on Tuesday.
Five-time world champions Brazil are the only South American side to have so far guaranteed their place in next year’s showpiece.
Brazil have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup but all eyes will be on superstar Neymar playing Ecuador on Thursday in his first international since a record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Selecao are on the fast track to Russia, with a good chance of ending the qualifiers as South America’s top team. Ecuador are only sixth and in danger of missing out on the finals in Russia.
For Brazil coach Tite, who has overseen eight out of eight victories in competitive matches since taking over, the priority for the clash in Porto Alegre is to maintain the high standards.
“The World Cup is now properly underway,” he told journalists at the training facility.
Tite has available his full stable of stars, led by Neymar who became the world’s most expensive player with a 222 million euro ($261 million) transfer to PSG from Barcelona.
With 52 goals in 77 international games, he is currently Brazil’s fourth most prolific scorer in history, with the legend Pele at the top with 77 goals.
With Neymar will be three PSG teammates: Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Daniel Alves.
Also playing is 20-year-old Gabriel Jesus, of Manchester City, who said Tuesday he was “very happy to look back over the last year, because I have achieved my childhood dream of wearing the national shirt and helping my companions.”
Mats Hummels will be ticked off by Germany’s management after posting a video of him jumping from a balcony into a swimming pool – days before key World Cup qualifiers.
Germany have won all six qualifiers so far and could secure their place at next year’s World Cup by beating the Czech Republic in Prague on Friday if other results go their way before hosting Norway in Stuttgart on Monday.
However, Hummels posted a video on Instagram on Tuesday, shot on a break in Croatia after Bayern Munich’s 2-0 win at Werder Bremen on Saturday, of him leaping into a pool and narrowly missing the edge on landing.
The centre-back posted: “looks more spectacular than it actually is. #donttrythisathome” alongside the video, which attracted lots of comments from fans urging the World Cup winner to be more careful.
The 28-year-old’s daredevil video, which attracted almost 300,000 views on Instagram and was used in an online article by Germany’s most popular daily Bild, did not impress Germany’s management so close to internationals.
“It would have been worse if he’d jumped in head first,” Germany’s team manager Oliver Bierhoff told reporters on Wednesday.
“We’re not the social media police, yet we will point out that he is a role model.
“Mats is actually very reflective and I wouldn’t put too much on this,” added Bierhoff.