Arena de São Paulo, Sao Paulo
June 19, 2014; 20:00 GMT
After a shocking defeat to Costa Rica on Day 3 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Uruguay take on England in tough conditions that could play a key role in determining which teams qualify for the knockout stages from Group D. The result (win, loss or draw for either team) will surely change the dynamics of the group as a whole. Here is a look at what to expect.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Among all the possible permutations in place regarding who would likely qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup from Group D, not many took into account the possibility of Uruguay suffering a shock loss to Costa Rica in their first game itself – least of all coming back from a goal down. Not only does it mean that Costa Rica are now in with a shout, it also means that the meeting between Uruguay and England at Sao Paolo on Thursday assumes an even greater degree of significance. Anything less than a win for Uruguay will make qualification for the Round of 16 that much tougher, esp because they play Italy in the last round of games.
Manager Oscar Washington Tabarez faces two key questions that must be addressed in his selection of the starting lineup. The suspension of right back Maxi Pereira thanks to a moment of madness (albeit, born out of 90 minutes of frustration) leaves a hole on the right side of defence that will likely be filled by Diego Fucile.
Secondly, does Tabarez risk Luis Suarez against England? The fact that Suarez didn’t come on to the field straight away after Uruguay conceded a lead to Costa Rica could mean that Suarez was still away from full match fitness to be able to make a difference without any risk. Tabarez might possibly leave Suarez on the bench and bring him on at the latter stages of the game in the hope that Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan do a job up front in the first half.
Probable starting lineup (4-4-2): Muslera (GK); Fucile, Lugano, Godin, Caceres; Stuani, Arevalo, Gargano, Rodriguez; Forlan, Cavani
Considering the turgid stuff England put out 4 years ago against Algeria to leave themselves needing a win in their last group game, Saturday’s performance in their defeat to Italy actually was encouraging. The Three Lions, however, will have two pressing issues to address.
First, Wayne Rooney’s performance, playing position, state of mind and general well being (in short, anything to do with him) is a topic of interest in every newspaper worth its salt. It must be remembered that his pinpoint cross set up England’s equalizer for Daniel Sturridge, but spent the entire first half distinctly uncomfortable on the left flank. Rooney is known for his work rate, but his absence in helping out Leighton Baines not only meant that his constant movement was wasted; it also exposed Baines to a 2-on-1 assault all night long. There is no doubt that Rooney comes in with a considerable reputation that keeps opposition defenders on their toes (at the very least), but his lack of comfort away from the centre makes it hard to fit him in the team. Hodgson is likely to place him in the hole behind Daniel Sturridge.
Secondly, will Hodgson continue to select Raheem Sterling despite his lack of World Cup experience? Hodgson does not have many other options available, but given that Sterling cramped up towards the end of the game against Italy, he is unlikely to play the Liverpool winger for the entire 90 minutes.
Costa Rica are certainly no pushovers, esp after their victory over Uruguay; and hence it would be foolish to rule out a shock result in their game against Italy either. England will want to win this fixture at any cost, and will certainly be helped by the fact that temperatures are likely to drop to 15 degrees Celsius. They would certainly enjoy these conditions as it reminds them of home, but then again, so would a certain Luis Suarez.
Probable starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Hart (GK); Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Henderson; Rooney, Welbeck, Sterling; Sturridge
Players to watch out for
Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
In the likely absence of Luis Suarez and the lack of form of Diego Forlan, Edinson Cavani will shoulder a major portion of the goalscoring burden for Uruguay in what is a must-win game for the South Americans. He has, however, come up against Chelsea defender Gary Cahill once before this season and come off unsuccessful. He will learn from the experience as he looks to make a tangible impact on the game.
Wayne Rooney (England)
On his day, Wayne Rooney can be a very effective player. But when he is out of form, it often affects the rest of the team that he is playing for, esp if he is not playing in his preferred playing position. Which Wayne Rooney will turn up on Thursday?
Uruguay 1-1 England