Must-win for England and Uruguay to reassure suffering fans

2014-06-19 00:00

HOW refreshing it was to see a goalkeeper hogging the headlines for once.

On Tuesday night the world was ready to marvel at Neymar when the Brazilians kicked off against the Mexicans, but 90 minutes later Guillermo Ochoa was the name on everybody’s lips. The Mexican shot-stopper pulled off a string of sensational saves to deny the Brazilians a win that would have seen them all but secure qualification to the knockout stages. They will have to wait a little while longer for that confirmation now, though it is still pretty much dead certainty that the hosts will take their place amongst the last 16 with only a clash against Cameroon left for them in Group A.

The match commanding most of the world’s attention tonight is the 9 pm Group D kick-off where Uruguay and England are hovering dangerously close to bombing out at the group stages. The English went down to Italy in their first match while Uruguay were stunned by Costa Rica, and defeat for either side tonight will almost certainly crush hopes of progressing out of the group.

The pressure on the English, as is the case whenever they are involved in a major tournament, is massive thanks largely to their ruthless print and digital media.

Wayne Rooney has been made the scapegoat after the Italy loss, and he will no doubt be the camera’s focus throughout the game. Luis Suarez returns to boost Uruguay, and the battle for supremacy between him and Rooney makes for a potentially explosive clash.

England were lauded for their attacking intent against the Italians, and there will surely be more of the same tonight as they go for broke. But it is at the back where there are concerns, and Suarez has the potential to make life difficult for Gary Cahill and co.

There are two Group C clashes either side of the England game, and they will have a major say in the future of the Ivory Coast at the tournament. The Ivoirians were the only one of Africa’s five representatives to record a victory in their opening match, making them the continent’s most likely to progress to the knockouts at this stage.

A tricky tie against Colombia, who walloped Greece 3-0 last week, awaits tonight. Didier Drogba was massively influential when he came on in his side’s win over Japan, and he could be given a start tonight. The Africans will back themselves to be stronger than Greece in their last group match, meaning that a result tonight — even in the form of a draw — will go a long way towards securing a knockout spot.

Japan and Greece, both without a point, play in the midnight kick-off.

TONIGHT’S FIXTURES

6 pm: Colombia v Ivory Coast

9 pm: England v Uruguay

12 am: Japan v Greece

TONIGHT’S HIGHLIGHT

England, England, England! Will they have their moment, or will they be the punch line of countless football jokes by the end of today?

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