The Big Match Tactical View: Uruguay v England

Luis Suarez will play upfront, with Edinson Cavani behind
Luis Suarez will play upfront, with Edinson Cavani behind
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Both sides lost their opener - and another defeat should result in elimination. Michael Cox considers the tactical battle, while professional trader Alan Thompson gives you the betting angle...

"If both sides play at the same level as they showed in their opening contest, England will win comfortably"

Back England to win at [2.2]

Uruguay v England
Thursday, 20:00
Live on ITV1

Match Odds: Uruguay [3.7], England [2.2], The Draw [3.6].

England and Uruguay both lost their opening game of this tournament, but in wildly different circumstances. England played well against a good Italian side but didn't quite have the quality in the final third, while Uruguay were genuinely awful against an unfancied Costa Rica team, and the 3-1 defeat was an entirely fair reflection upon their dreadful performance.

Uruguay were, however, without their leading marksman Luis Suarez, and his return should give Oscar Tabarez a huge boost. The major problem against Costa Rica was the poor quality of the service into the forwards, with Edinson Cavani often fighting for hopeful long balls.

Suarez isn't a target man, of course, but he's better than anyone at chasing lost causes into the corners of the pitch, and not a player who depends upon good service from the midfield. He's capable of creating chances from nothing, and can single-handedly compensate for the lack of guile in Uruguay's midfield.

Suarez's return means Cavani should drop into a deeper position, as something of a second striker, although the huge gap between midfield and attack means he spends most of his time haring up and down the pitch to connect the side, something the ageing Diego Forlan wasn't capable of against Costa Rica.

Tabarez will also reshuffle his defence because of Maxi Pereira's suspension. This probably means Martin Caceres moving across to right-back, and Alvaro Pereira (no relation) coming into the side on the left of the defence. They're completely different players - Caceres is a converted centre-back, Pereira more of a converted winger - and while England struggled down their left side against Italy, it's down their right, with Pereira and Cristian Rodriguez (probably Uruguay's best player in their opening) where they'll need to be careful.

Roy Hodgson seems likely to keep the same starting XI, but will probably change the positions of his front four. He used Raheem Sterling in a central position against Italy to attempt to shut down Andrea Pirlo, with Wayne Rooney - who has proved unable to stop Pirlo before - moved to the left.

Ironically, of course, Rooney ended up having the biggest defensive task of England's attackers, with Matteo Darmian constantly sprinting past him to cause overloads with Antonio Candreva.

Rooney will probably be moved to the centre for this game, against a Uruguayan central midfield completely lacking a Pirlo equivalent. That means Danny Welbeck and Sterling on the flanks, probably with Welbeck left and Sterling right. Daniel Sturridge should continue upfront after netting against Italy.

England should dominate this game. Uruguay massively lack pace in the centre of defence, with Diego Lugano a particular worry, and they'll be absolutely terrified of Sturridge, Sterling and Welbeck running in behind. Expect them to defend extremely deep as a result, with the midfield having to get back and protect them closely. Cavani will attempt to make life difficult for Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson, but those two, Leighton Baines and Glen Johnson should enjoy plenty of time in midfield, and it's all about the quality of passing into the front four.

The main Uruguayan threat will come from Suarez, but his precise level of fitness is unknown. If he wasn't even able to appear as a substitute against Costa Rica five days before this game, has he really recovered sufficiently to start against so many of his club teammates? It's impossible to know. Cavani is also a goalscoring threat, of course, though he'll start in a much deeper position.

England must also be wary of set-pieces. Lugano, Caceres, Suarez, Cavani, Christian Stuani and particularly Diego Godin - who scored in the La Liga title decider and European Cup final last month - are dangerous in these situations. If you fancy Uruguay to get a goal, Godin and Caceres might be value for the first goalscorer.

But I'm confident England will prevail, and [2.2] looks a good price. If both sides play at the same level as they showed in their opening contest, England will win comfortably. The question, of course, is Suarez - how fit is he, and how much difference does he make?

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Back England to win at [2.2]

The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson

While England’s defeat to Italy was disappointing and would normally have the country screaming for the manager’s head, the reaction was actually a positive one. I thought defeat against Italy was a little harsh on England and a draw for me would have been a fair result.

Uruguay were poor against the Costa Ricans and while the inclusion of Luis Suarez will give them a much needed boost his fitness must be a concern. While a key player in this side and as good as Suarez is if he is not fit, he will get found out. The big advantage for Uruguay is that the game is being played in Sao Paulo where the conditions should suit them much better than England (possible rain and high humidty).

Almost as soon as the first games finished in this group, there was market support for goals, which is not really surprising following the high number of goals so far in the competition and the fact that both teams will be going for the win in this one. Also, in the Match Odds market it is England who have attracted the early money and now trade at a very short 2.2 (I had them at 2.86), and while I don’t want to back them at that price I am also not a layer.

Rather than support England in the Match Odds market, I will be dutch backing England to win this game 2-0 at 12.0 & 2-1 at 10.0 in the Correct Score market, giving approximate odds of 5.5.

Uruguay have already lost the services of Maxi Pereira due to his red card in the first game and with Spanish referee, Carlos Velasco Carballo in charge of this one I can see more card action. Carballo took charge of 25 games (La Liga, Champions league and Internationals) during last season where he issued 125 yellows and eight reds giving an average card mark up of 58 pts per game.

I will be backing 45pts and Over in the Booking Odds market at anything around evens (2.0).

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