There were many who weren’t surprised with England’s result in their opening group stage match against Italy on Saturday, a 2-1 defeat. The real surprise came during the other Group D match, when Costa Rica stunned heavily favoured Uruguay 3-1.
For many Premier League fans, there was one noticeable absence on the pitch in the latter of those two matches. Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who led the Premier League in goals last season with 31, did not play after undergoing knee surgery just over three weeks ago.
Suarez has vowed to be ready for the match against the Three Lions, a must win for both teams if they want to keep their hopes of advancing alive. According to Bet365, Suarez is 6/1 to score first in Thursday night’s match-up.
If Suarez either doesn’t play or is ineffective, Uruguay still have Edinson Cavani, a target of numerous English clubs this summer, up top capable of scoring at any given moment. Cavani is 15/2 to score during the match.
As always, fitness will be a hot topic leading up to this match, but it could be even more prevalent going into this one with Suarez’ level being so important in deciding the outcome. With cramping being a major issue at this World Cup, Dr Blanca Liazola, founder of sports rehydration product SOS Rehydrate, says it is vital every player hydrates before a match.
“Football players must start their games properly hydrated, as they will be exposed to 45 min sessions of high intensity exercise, high temperatures and humidity. However there isn’t a magic recipe; every athlete should have a personalized hydration strategy as we are all different,” Lizaola said.
For England, questions remain with their own star striker in the form of Wayne Rooney. Playing on the left side rather than his normal spot in the middle against Italy, Rooney was ineffective for most of the match, although he did set up Daniel Sturridge’s goal with a brilliant cross.
There was much chatter over the last few days about what England boss Roy Hodgson should do with his star. For many, there is only one solution to Hodgson’s problem.
“I’d put Raheem Sterling on the left and bring Wayne Rooney back down the middle,” QPR manager Harry Redknapp said.
Few could argue with the prospect of putting your best player in his best position, as Hodgson would be doing by moving Rooney back into the middle. But the strong play of Sterling against Italy, a performance Liverpool teammate and England captain Steven Gerrard deemed “fearless”, makes the situation more difficult.
Nonetheless, it should certainly be an entertaining match regardless with so much at stake. I expect England to play much better from the opening whistle in this match than in the Italy contest, and for Suarez to be less than the 100% he claims to be.
Prediction: England 2-1 (8/1 odds)