England and Uruguay go head-to-head in this mouth-watering winner-takes-all clash in Sao Paulo. Our England expert Iain Macintosh pits his wits against Uruguay guru Tim Vickery – and they’re both predicting a red card…
Iain Macintosh on England: Anyone hoping for the ruthless expulsion of Wayne Rooney is in for a disappointing evening. If recent training sessions are anything to go by, Rooney will be restored to the centre, linking up with Daniel Sturridge while Danny Welbeck shuffles out to the left and Raheem Sterling is shoved to the right. England have no reported injuries and so it will almost certainly be the same starting line-up that faced Italy, just shuffled slightly at the front.
Tim Vickery on Uruguay: The big news, of course, is the return of Luis Suarez, back after keyhole surgery on his knee to lead the Uruguayan attack. Diego Forlan seems set to make way. There is also a significant change at the back, where captain Diego Lugano has not recovered from a knee injury. Young Jose Maria Gimenez, a very inexperienced but much quicker player, is the front runner to come to replace Lugano. Other options in that position are Sebastian Coates or Martin Caceras, with Jorge Fucile coming in at full-back. There is an enforced change at right back, with Maxi Pereira suspended after his red card against Costa Rica. Martin Caceres could switch flanks, with Alvaro Pereira coming in at left back. There could be further modifications in midfield, where Walter Gargano’s place is vulnerable. Nicolas Lodeiro could come in to knit the side together with his left footed passing. And Alvaro Gonzalez, who came off the bench on Saturday, could replace Christian Stuani on the right of midfield.
Iain Macintosh: Yes, England lost to Italy at the weekend, but they did so in such endearingly ambitious style that it was really very difficult to be cross with them. Unlike previous incarnations of the Three Lions, this team actually attacked from the start, almost as if they weren’t all utterly terrified of their own shadow. There were issues, significantly the open-door policy to the left flank, but England fans were broadly pleased with what they had seen, feeling warm and satisfied and wondering to themselves if this was that ‘pride’ thing they had read about somewhere.
Tim Vickery: Uruguay were very poor against Costa Rica. They are a side that play within their limitations. When they cannot do the simple things well, such as defend against crosses, those limitations are cruelly exposed. Their second half collapse and lack of lung power are a concern, and cast doubt on the wisdom of preparing at home, where they were playing warm up friendlies at 8:30 at night in the bitter cold of the Montevideo winter – very different from the scorching afternoon heat of Fortaleza, where they lost to Costa Rica. They will be happier taking on England in the cool of Sao Paulo, and will also take heart from their tradition of digging deep when things are at their most difficult. In qualification there was a moment when they looked set to miss out, with away trips to Venezuela and Peru, their direct rivals for the South American play-off spot. They won both games.
WHAT THE MANAGER SAYS
Roy Hodgson on England: “The only positive I can take from the Italy defeat is that it was undoubtedly the best I’ve seen the team play during my time with them.”
Oscar Tabarez on Uruguay: “Now it’s a final and both sides need a win. We felt the impact of the defeat against Costa Rica, it was a blow for all of us. But now we need to clean out our minds, and go forward positively, thinking about what we can do, that nothing is impossible.”
Iain Macintosh: You can understand why Roy Hodgson wants to give Wayne Rooney every opportunity to rediscover his form, but it’s a shame that Raheem Sterling seems likely to pay the price. The teenage trickster was so impressive against Italy that he drew effusive praise from Andrea Pirlo. Perhaps, however, he can cause problems from the flanks against Uruguay’s creaking defence, finding gaps between the centre-back and the full-back. He’s certainly not lacking confidence.
Tim Vickery: It has to be Luis Suarez. Going into the tournament Uruguay’s hopes were based around the Liverpool hit man, their all-time top scorer. Now, rushed back after injury, his presence is fundamental. Uruguay need him to be much more than a footballing El Cid, tied to his horse and set out to battle merely to boost morale. They are throwing him into the World Cup deep end in the hope that he can deliver. His message to the Uruguayan people – “trust us.”
Iain Macintosh: Two teams with high expectations thrust together in a high stakes, high pressure battle for survival? And you can get 3.75 on a red card at any time to any player? Yes, I think I’ll have some of that.
Tim Vickery: A red card at 3.75. This one could get tasty.
Iain Macintosh: England 0-1 Uruguay at odds of 10.50
Tim Vickery: England 2-1 Uruguay at odds of 7.50
Bet on Group D now.