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Preview: Fight or flight for England, Uruguay

News.com.au
Thursday, June 19, 2014

Update: 4:34PM ENGLAND and Uruguay must resurrect their World Cup hopes or face the prospect of an early flight home when they collide in a crunch Group D fixture.

Opening defeats to Italy and Costa Rica respectively have left both countries in danger of elimination with little room for error in their last two pool games.

Defeat in Sao Paulo would surely spell doom for either Roy Hodgsons new-look England or two-time winners Uruguay, who were unimpressive in their 3-1 loss to Costa Rica.

Both countries have question marks over their strikers with calls in British media to either drop talisman Wayne Rooney, or move him from the left to his preferred central role.

For Uruguay, Liverpools Luis Suarez, this seasons Premier League top-scorer with 31 goals, is set to make his return from keyhole surgery on his the meniscus in his left knee last month.

Rooney set up Englands goal but missed a chance to equalise during Saturdays 2-1 loss to Italy, in a subdued display which had many critics questioning his place.

But the English FA said Rooney had requested an extra training session while other first-team regulars continued their post-match recovery.

Rooney complained sometimes (I) wonder what the press are getting at on his Facebook page, while Frank Lampard hit out at the obsession with his teammate.

"A fixation with one player can become, rather than a debate, a bit of an agenda," he said.

"So I do think we need to drop the agenda and look at the team, whoever plays."

The whirlwind surrounding Rooney has dominated the build-up for youthful England, who won praise for their bold approach against Italy, exemplified by Raheem Sterling.

However, defensive fragility could return to haunt them with problems down the left, while centre-half Gary Cahill was out-jumped by Mario Balotelli when heading the winner.

They will also be missing Benfica defender Maxi Pereira, who was sent off for a foul on Campbell in the tail-end of the loss.

But England will be wary of a strikeforce pairing Paris Saint-Germains Edinson Cavani with the lethal Suarez, even if he wont be fully match-fit.

The build-up has not been short of hyperbole with Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez calling it a final and captain Diego Lugano describing it as life and death.

Englands Daniel Sturridge, who was on target with a sweet first-time finish against Italy, said it would be do or die in Sao Paulo.

"Im prepared to do anything, and Im talking anything. Im being serious. Its do or die," he told reporters.

The rivalry dates back to May 1953, when goals from Julio Cesar Abbadie and Omar Oscar Miguez saw off England 2-1 in Montevideo. Uruguay lead the head-to-head 4-3, with three draws.

In their only World Cup meetings, holders Uruguay won 4-2 in the 1954 quarter-finals and they drew 0-0 in the group stage in 1966, when England won their only World Cup title.

The latest instalment will be refereed by Spains Carlos Velasco Carballo, who is taking charge of his first World Cup finals game.

Both teams will keep a close eye on the other Group D result between Italy and Costa Rica, 2000km away in Recife.


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