Uruguay striker Luis Suarez pushed his body to the very limits in last Thursday's match against England but said his knee was in "perfect condition" ahead of the must-win World Cup clash against Italy.
In a dazzling display of marksmanship, Suarez scored both goals in the 2-0 defeat of England having missed Uruguay's opening defeat to Costa Rica because of the knee surgery he underwent just before the tournament.
On Tuesday at the Dunas arena, Uruguay will again be looking to Suarez and his strike partner Edinson Cavani to provide the goals they need to beat Italy, who only require a draw, and secure a place in the last 16 from Group D.
"I was not really 100% the other day," he told a news conference. "I was at the limit of my physical capacity. My last game had been at Liverpool in May. So I was cramping and tired. But you build yourself up and come to the next assignment and this is what I'm doing. The knee is in perfect condition. If it hadn't been right I would have told the coach. After surgery, you are always worried but the reaction was spectacular."
Coach Oscar Tabarez said having even a partially fit Suarez in the side was vital for Uruguay, who reached the semi-finals in South Africa four years ago but will be going home if they fail to beat four-times champions Italy. "Luis is very important," he said. "He knows what to do in the last 20 metres in front of the goal. You don't lose that just because you have a knee operation. "He put everything he had into overcoming this impediment. With respect to others on the team, he is a good option even if he isn't 100% fit. We have no doubt his presence is going to be very important for us ... This gentleman is going to go to the pitch and he is going to fight."
Suarez, linked with a move to Barcelona from Liverpool by Spanish media overnight, was asked whether he was aiming to become the best player at the World Cup. "My objective is only to play for Uruguay and make Uruguay better and fulfil our ambition to go beyond this match," he said. "We will face an Italian team at their best and play the way Uruguay play when we want to achieve something."
Tabarez did not announce his line-up for the match, but said he had been impressed by the much-changed team he put out to face England in Sao Paulo. Describing the chance to play Italy as a "gift sent from heaven", Tabarez said he had plenty of respect for the Azzurri but no fear - not even for their sometimes deadly striker Mario Balotelli. "There is no room for fear in football, there's only room for fear in life when bad things happen to your loved ones," he said.
"There can be concerns, of course, and in the case of Balotelli he is young and he is a specialist in the last part of the pitch. We have worked to try to counter him. We will see if we succeed. But I believe that this match is not going to be characterised by fear but by motivation and admiration."