Following defeats in their opening matches, both England and Uruguay will be desperate to take all three points when they meet at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on Thursday (20:00 BST, live on ITV).
The teams occupy the bottom two positions in Group D following England’s 2-1 defeat to Italy and Uruguay’s surprising 3-1 loss to Costa Rica. With Italy now looking the favourites to qualify as group winners, one or the other, perhaps both, could be eliminated.
England performed to a good standard in their defeat to Italy in Manaus, troubling their opponents with the vibrancy of their attacking play. Raheem Sterling (pictured) was the standout performer, but goalscorer Daniel Sturridge was also impressive, while Wayne Rooney did a solid job in an unfamiliar role on the left. It was he who provided the assist for the goal.
The problems for Roy Hodgson’s side came further back. The central midfield duo of Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard were outnumbered and outmanoeuvred by their Italian counterparts, while both full-backs performed poorly. The Italian forwards were able to outfox central defender Phil Jagielka on two or three occasions.
Hodgson is unlikely to make major changes for the Uruguay match, but he could make some small tweaks in search of a better balance between defence and attack. Reports also suggest that Rooney will be moved into a central role. In that scenario, Sterling would move wide left or wide right depending on whether Danny Welbeck retains his place in his side.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continues to make good progress in his recovery from the medial ligament damage he picked up in the recent friendly draw with Ecuador, but he is unlikely to play a part on Thursday. Hodgson has no further injuries concerns ahead of the fixture.
Uruguay had the better of the first half against Costa Rica. They went ahead thanks to an Edinson Cavani penalty and came close to doubling their lead through a deflected shot from Diego Forlan. But Costa Rica came out strong after the break, scored two goals in three minutes just before the hour mark and then added another on the break late-on to secure victory.
Oscar Washington Tabarez will have struggled to take many positives from the performance of his side. They were far from incisive in the final third, with a lack of creativity in midfield and the absence of injured striker Luis Suarez seeing them toil to little effect. They were found out defensively in both open play and, perhaps more worryingly, from set pieces.
The one plus point for Tabarez is that his side are far more comfortable playing on the counter-attack, as they are likely to against England and Italy, than they are when asked to make the play themselves. Their defence is better as a deep-lying unit and the likes of Cavani and Suarez are more effective when they have space to move into.
Suarez has declared himself “100% fit” for this match and is expected to come into the starting XI in place of Forlan. Maxi Pereira is suspended after receiving a red card in the defeat to Costa Rica, with either Jorge Fucile or Alvaro Pereira set to fill in. Tabarez could make other changes, too, with Nicolas Lodeiro, for one, considered likely to start.
England vs Uruguay Betting Tips Verdict
England and Uruguay have met on 10 previous occasions, with England winning three, Uruguay winning four and three of the encounters ending in draws. Two of those meetings were in World Cup matches. Uruguay won 4-2 in 1954 and the sides shared a 0-0 draw in 1966. England won 2-1 when the sides last met in a friendly at Anfield in 2006.
There were some positive signs for England in their defeat to Italy and Hodgson seems content to continue with the bold approach his side displayed in that fixture. Uruguay struggled to deal with the pace of the Costa Rican attack in their opening match and England are well-placed to take advantage of that weakness.
Uruguay’s attack was also made to look pedestrian against Costa Rica, but they are likely to carry a greater offensive threat against England. If he starts, Lodeiro will inject a little more ingenuity into their midfield play, while the return of the tricky and prolific Suarez is obviously a huge plus for Tabarez and his side.
It will be a close encounter and one that we believe is most likely to end in a draw.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 5/2 with SkyBet, BetVictor or Boylesports.
- We would expect to see a fairly cagey opening to this match. The second half has been the highest scoring half in nine of the 13 matches played so far in this World Cup and although the conditions in Sao Paulo will not be as draining as those at some other venues, we believe this match will follow the same pattern. Back the second half to be the highest scoring half @ best odds of 11/10 with SkyBet or BetVictor.