Uruguay made life incredible difficult for themselves by losing to underdogs Costa Rica, meaning they now need to win both remaining games in order to qualify. And while England may be in a similar situation, the Three Lions will be in better mood than the opposition following a very good performance in the 2-1 loss to Italy.
While they had not exactly impressed in the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and needed the play-offs to reach the tournament finals, Uruguay were still tipped for a successful tournament based on their performances over the last few years. After reaching the 2010 World Cup semi-finals, La Celeste also went on to win the 2011 Copa America trophy, and they arrived in Brazil with virtually the same team that featured at those two competitions. Nevertheless, Luis Suarez’s injury seems to have taken the wind out of their sails and Uruguay were in turn almost unrecognisable against Costa Rica. There were absolutely no creativity in midfield, leaving Edinson Cavani too isolated up front, while some shocking defending at set pieces ended up costing them dearly. And while coach Oscar Tabarez hopes the return to Luis Suarez will be just what the team need to turn things around, it is clear the Liverpool star is not in the best shape, while there is only so much he can do on his own. Meanwhile, captain Diego Lugano and full-back Maxi Pereira are out through injury and suspension respectively and chances are they will be missed at the back.
England could have certainly had a better sending off to the tournament finals having shared spoils with Ecuador and Honduras in final two warm-up games, but there were plenty of positives in those two performances as well as the 3-0 triumph over Peru. And the players’ confidence told in the opening match against rock-solid Italy as the Three Lions were the better team throughout the game, although they eventually had to settle for a narrow defeat in harsh weather conditions in Manaus. Nevertheless, Roy Hodgson and his men can take a lot of heart from that performance, with Danny Welbeck and especially Raheem Sterling proving the boss was right to hand them the starting roles. Wayne Rooney was far from impressive in the left wing role despite setting up a goal for Daniel Sturridge, and he looks likely to switch places with Sterling for the Uruguay game. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has resumed full training, but he remains doubtful, with no fresh injuries to report. And providing they can produce a similar performance to that against Italy, England should be a good bet to win their second group game.
Uruguay were utterly disappointed against average Costa Rica side and I don’t think that Luis Suarez will be of big help considering the circumstances. England, on the other hand, proved they are more than capable of playing at this level and they should be trusted to pour more misery on La Celeste.
Verdict: Away win England (2)
Best Odds: 23/20
Bookmaker: William Hill