Uruguay v England Preview
Live on itv. 8.00pm
After Uruguay and England both lost their opening World Cup 2014 games, it’s all to play for when they meet in this crucial Group D matchup from Sao Paulo.
Uruguay (13/5. BetVictor) started fairly well against Costa Rica, taking the lead through Cavani’s (12/5 Anytime, William Hill) penalty, but couldn’t add to the score thereafter and looked a little out of sorts, lacking cohesion.
Of course, Costa Rica put on a tremendous second half performance to take advantage of a lacklustre Uruguay and win 3-1, with goalkeeper Navas demonstrating that he’s as good as I said he was.
Bar a few acrobatic saves, Navas didn’t have that much to do in the game, though, and Cost Rica showed – mainly through the impressive Joel Campbell – that they’re a better team than people think.
England (5/4, Paddy Power), who had been backed into a silly 6/5 price by the time the game started – partly through the usual blind, hopeful patriotic punter, partly because Buffon and De Sciglio weren’t playing – lost 2-1 to Italy in Manus last Saturday night.
The ‘Three Lions’ started well, with Sterling (4/1 Anytime, BetVictor) going close to opening the scoring, but couldn’t make a firm dent in the Italian defence, allowing the ‘Azzurri’ to take the initiative and eventually go 1-0 up.
With an otherwise lacklustre Rooney – who had to play on the left wing – providing the assist for Sturridge’s goal, England equalised but, despite some encouraging play, couldn’t add to their goal.
Balotelli’s header allowed Italy to retake the lead and, whilst Hodgson’s boys perhaps should have had a penalty ten minutes or so later, England never looked likely to draw level for a second time.
England played better than I expected, but in my opinion their defeat was par for the course. Well into my 30’s age wise, and having worked in the betting industry for seven years, I’ve seen England put on an unrealistic pedestal throughout my life, and it pretty much always ends up in disappointment for punter and fan alike.
In the last few years, however, public expectation has gradually become more realistic with regards to England’s chances in tournament football, and it seemed that way for Brazil 2014.
But then, forgetting that England had drawn 0-0 with Honduras recently, people saw Italy draw 0-0 with ROI and 1-1 with Luxembourg in friendly matches and fell into the trap of thinking that England will beat Italy, as the Italians drew two (non-competitive) games against weaker opposition.
I’m English and i’d like to see the national team win as often as possible, but I don’t like setting myself up for the double whammy of sporting heartbreak and financial loss, so experience told me to back Italy on a draw no basis as soon as I saw 4/5 on offer several months ago.
If you think about it, Italy have unexpectedly made the final or won the tournament several times, yet when can you say that about England? History says that the Italians will get the job done but England won’t.
Can Uruguay be put on the same level as Italy in major tournaments? Well, they’ve won more than England recently and are the reigning Copa America champions.
Roy Hodgson has certainly stoked the fire by saying that Uruguay’s Suarez (6/4 Anytime, Bet365) is not world-class until he performs and influences the outcome of a World Cup – and that’s sure to further motivate the Liverpool striker – who’s just back from injury and is expected to start against England.
Indeed, with Suarez being no stranger to losing his temper and seeing red, his colleague Diego Lugano considered to be a ‘loose cannon’ and the almost must-win factor for both sides, a red card could be a good option in Uruguay v England.
In conclusion, I was more confident that Italy wouldn’t lose to England than I am with Uruguay, but I’m prepared to take the same chance and risk it.
After all, history says that you should ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for your bank balance!
Recommendation: Uruguay + 0.25 Asian handicap (30/29, BetVictor)