For England, their result was met with expectation and acceptance. For Uruguay however, their result sent shockwaves through the group. The simple fact now becomes, that this is a life or death match for England, but certainly for Uruguay.
In truth, neither side will want to settle for a draw in Sao Paulo tomorrow, but that result would see England in far better shape than Uruguay theoretically. England’s final group stage match is against Costa Rica, who proved against Uruguay that they are no pushovers – they do have quality, but can they replicate that performance twice more? Uruguay have the joy of facing Italy in their final match of group play, placing them in a more precarious position going forward.
England do have one massive problem to contend with, and that is the return to full-fitness (or so claimed) of Luis Suarez. Unable to feature against Costa Rica, Suarez is chomping at the bit to make his presence known in Brazil this summer.
Will the Three Lions finally put in a performance at the World cup befitting their famous nickname? Or will La Celeste fancy themselves Lion hunters and put themselves back on track? Here now is our preview and predictions.
Projected Starting XI’s
England: Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines; Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson; Adam Lallana, Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling; Daniel Sturridge
Uruguay: Fernando Muslera; Jorge Fucile, Sebastian Coates, Diego Godin, Alvaro Gonzalez; Walter Gargano, Diego Perez; Nicolas Lodeiro; Abel Hernandez, Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez
Key’s for England:
- Allow Raheem Sterling to build on his performance against Italy. He was brilliant all evening, unafraid to go right at the Italian defense, take players on and have an influence – England have been missing a player like that. If he is allowed to play the ay he knows how, he will expose Uruguay’s lack of pace at the back and force them to foul and potentially get into card trouble.
- With Suarez sure to start, Hodgson must press upon the midfield to give the appropriate cover for him at the back. Baines was constantly attacked by two against Italy, and with no one coming to his aid, he was exploited all evening. Not even Ashley Cole would have been able to handle the situation, so England must be better there.
- Find a way to allow Rooney to be influential but not the focal point. He was not good against Italy (I’m done arguing about this), and there are rumors that he may start behind Sturridge rather than on the left. That is a step in the right direction to allowing him to shine, but England cannot put too much emphasis on him, it’s still about the collective.
Key’s for Uruguay:
- They must be more organized at the back, and play narrow if it comes down to it. They have a severe lack of pace there, especially at center back, and with Sturridge, Sterling and even Rooney up against them, they’ll not be able to manage if gaps appear.
- Related to the above, Uruguay must do a far better job in giving support to the back-line, especially from Walter Gargano. Short of pitching a tent in front of them and standing guard for 90 minutes, he must reduce the potential threat from Rooney and give the defense a chance at dealing with the pace of Sturridge and Sterling.
- Get Suarez on the ball and allow him to influence the match as best he can. This may be his first match in some time, but he is up for this. He knows everyone in the England side, especially the defenders, and he will know what is required to beat them. He will need the first 20minutes to settle in surely, but if he does settle, England could be in trouble.
- Gargano v Rooney – We saw Costa Rica exploit Uruguay at the back numerous occasions in their opening match, and they really could have at every single chance they had. In order for them to improve, Gargano must offer as much cover for them as possible, and that means trying to keep Rooney quiet.
- Cahill v Cavani – He had a few good looks at goal against Costa Rica, but he fluffed every single one. We all know the quality he has, and when he gets it right, it’s rather impressive to watch. Cahill has more pace over Jagielka, so it should be his task to keep a watchful eye on Cavani and not allow him to get behind the England defense.
- Baines v Suarez – They have played against each other plenty of times at club level for Everton and Liverpool, and both will know the ins and outs on his opponent. The facts remain rather simple really; if Baines can shut down Suarez, England will win. But if Suarez gets the better of Baines, his ability to go to goal or look for Cavani could be the nail in the coffin.
Staff match predictions
Drew: I do think England will improve on their performance against Italy, but it is unsure whether Uruguay have it in them to learn from their loss to Costa Rica. Suarez is back and rumored fit, but he will not be in any sort of form, so how he turn up could be the decisive factor. I think England will right the ship here and pull it up 3-1. Uruguay have such a lack of pace and real quality in defense that I think they will yet again be overwhelmed.
Young: Opposite of Drew, I am going to say 2-1 Uruguay. The return of Suarez is not only a threat to England, but it can and will serve as a massive moral boost to the Uruguayans. He is ready to make his mark and through his return and renewed partnership with Cavani, they will bring a far better finishing product in the final third than what was on display against Costa Rica.
Charles: After seeing Costa Rica in their 3-1 win against Uruguay, I really don’t think they’ll be able to cope with England. Sturridge, Rooney and Sterling should have an easy job against their back-line. Suarez will return and is good value to score, but Uruguay surely are a one man team. How can they hope to deal with England or even Italy after unless their play is raised by significant margin? For me, I say 2-1 England and Sturridge gets both the goals.