Uruguay

PREVIEW: Real Madrid vs Barcelona (Saturday 5pm BST)

Real Madrid welcome old foes Barcelona to Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday evening but will have to play the side who have still not conceded a league goal this season, without Gareth Bale.

The world’s most expensive player will miss the crunch match due to the same muscle injury that saw him sit out Madrid’s 0-3 midweek mauling of Liverpool in the Champions League.

Welsh wizard Bale was also an unused substitute in Real’s last league match at Levante in which the visitors cruised to a 0-5 win.

Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed however that Sergio Ramos will be fit for tomorrow’s derby.

Barcelona meanwhile will be without Thomas Vermaelen, Adriano and Sergio Busquets.

Luis Suarez is expected to feature in his first competitive game for Barca with this weekend marking his long awaited end to a four month ban that started in June for biting Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s World Cup clash against Italy.

His new side did the double over Madrid last season, winning 2-1 at the Nou Camp and overcoming them again at Santiago Bernabeu in a ding dong battle that saw the away side return home with a 3-4 win.

It was a game in which Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick, two of which were penalties while his Ballon d’Or rival Ronaldo scored only once.

La Liga’s Catalan giants have kept clean sheets in all of their eight games this campaign, scoring 22 and only dropping points once so far (a 0-0 draw in Malaga).

Madrid haven’t been shy in front of goal though, notching 25 goals in their eight matches with Cristiano Ronaldo providing 14 of them.

However they already find themselves off the pace in the La Liga title race, having lost two games this season to Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad.

They are four points behind league leaders Barcelona but Saturday gives them the perfect opportunity to close the gap to just one.

Italy 0-1 Costa Rica

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The World Cup surprise package Costa Rica produced their second shock win, defeating Italy 0-1 in a result that sent the underdogs through and knocked England out.

Bryan Ruiz provided the goal one minute before half time when he headed home Junior Diaz’s superb cross from the left hand side off the underside of the bar and in.

It was perhaps justice done as just before Costa Rica should have had a penalty when Joel Campbell was bundled over by Giorgio Chiellini.

In what was a game of few clear cut chances, Andrea Pirlo had Italy’s closest effort when his long-range free-kick was beaten away by Keylor Navas.

Despite the attacking introductions of Antonio Cassano, Alessio Cerci and Lorenzo Insigne, Italy could not find the leveler and Costa Rica held on for a historic win that sees them reach round 2 of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. Ironically held in Italy.

Italy now face a do-or-die clash with Uruguay next Tuesday where the winner will join Costa Rica in the last 16.

Change needed for England? Again?

Following what looks to be England’s latest failing at a major tournament, there are yet again calls for major overhaul.

After the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where England crashed out in the last 16 with a 4-1 hammering by rivals Germany, the Three Lions were encouraged to base their style on the tiki-taka of Spain who went on to win the coveted trophy.

St George’s Park was built with this philosophy grained into it and the effects have been predicted to come to fruition for the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

The problem now however is that tiki-taka looks tiki-toast after Spain themselves were dumped out the group stages this summer by The Netherlands and Chile.

To Roy Hodgson’s credit, England did play the positive attacking football in their opener against Italy and were arguably the better side but Uruguay was a different story as static, nervous England seemed to be back as the pressure looked to have got to them.

England need to create their own identity, possibly starting with a new Captain.

Steven Gerrard has come into particular light as the 34-year-old has probably waved goodbye to the World Cup due to his age and it did not end on a high, his header setting up Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez’s winner to all but send England home.

Liverpool’s iconic hero has been a loyal servant to his country with some fantastic highs including scoring the equalizer in England’s famous 1-5 win over Germany in 2001, scoring a brilliant goal against Trinidad and Tobago at World Cup 2006 and of course his crucial World Cup qualifying goals against the likes of Croatia for 2010 and Poland for 2014.

Along with this though, he has had his lows including a dodgy back-pass at Euro 2004 against France which led to Thierry Henry being fouled for Zinedine Zidane’s winning penalty as well as the Uruguay gaffe.

If Gerrard is replaced, either by choice through International retirement, or by force as Hodgson continues to build for the future, who could replace him?

Joe Hart: The England goalkeeper would be a popular choice among fans as he is one of few England players who has a safe spot in Hodgson’s starting eleven.

Two time Premiership winner with Manchester City, Hart, has established himself as England’s number one after Robert Green’s high profile error against the United States at the last World Cup and then number two David James has since retired.

Hart is a known leader on the pitch, often seen barking instructions from his penalty box and is refreshingly honest in interviews, something that adheres to England supporters as he is one of very few players who embodies himself among fans as “one of them”.

It is a myth that England players do not care about their national side as much as the fans but Hart is a rare example of someone who truly proves this. Perfect Captain material.

Wearing his Hart on his shoulder: England's number one.

Wearing his Hart on his sleeve: England’s number one.

Gary Cahill: John Terry’s partner in the heart of Chelsea’s defense is starting to emerge from the former England Captain’s shadow.

Since joining Stamford Bridge from Bolton in 2012, Cahill has blossomed working with Terry and has picked up plenty more England caps to boot as he ‘s built up a solid partnership with Everton’s Phil Jagielka.

Along with this, Cahill has similar personality traits to his colleague such as on-pitch leadership and an equally similar playing style. The 28-year-old is often seen putting his body on the line for his team much like Terry (“Superman” dive vs Slovenia esque) in true English lion-heart style, something the Three Lions have missed since Terry’s acrimonious departure from the national fold.

Another positive of Cahill’s, he also does not come with the baggage of John Terry with his personal life stories of affairs and racist allegations.

New kid on the block: Cahill dives in-front of a shot.

New kid on the block: Cahill dives in-front of a shot.

Wayne Rooney: Expected to be the bookies and media favourite to replace Gerrard. The England poster boy is undoubtedly the star man.

94 caps and 40 goals would be an impressive return by anyone’s standard but the main criticism of “Wazza” is that he does not turn up on the big stage.

The Manchester United forward, 28, has only scored six goals in major tournaments (four at Euro 2004 where he was just 18, one at Euro 2012 which was a header from two yards against Ukraine, and his leveler against Uruguay) – his first World Cup goal at the third attempt.

Criticism of his attitude would also be a harm to him, frequent contract issues with his club where he seems to be constantly demanding more money does not portray him in a good light.

Many also believe that we have never seen what Rooney is truly capable of, citing that if he had more drive and determination he could have been one of the best players in the world, possibly even ever.

Rooney’s rant into a camera following a 0-0 draw with Algeria at the last World Cup will also live long in the memory of many an England supporter. “Nice to see your home fans boo you, that’s what loyal support is”, is not a sentence that endears you to fans well.

Despite all this though, Rooney is still seen as the man to lead England. Why? Because he is England’s best player and, after all, isn’t that what the Captain should be?

Wayne's World: England's next captain?

Wayne’s World: England’s next captain?

Uruguay 2-1 England: Super Suarez all but eliminates England

England’s hopes of qualifying from Group D looked dashed due to to a brace from Luis Suarez either side of Wayne Rooney’s equalizer.

The Manchester United forward, 28, scored his first goal in a World Cup to level the scores with 15 minutes left when he tapped home a Glen Johnson squared pass to give England hope.

Rooney could have dragged England level earlier but shot straight at Fernando Muslera ten minutes into the second half after he knocked the ball past a La Celeste defender.

Suarez killed English dreams though when he tucked the ball past Joe Hart after Muslera’s goal-kick has flicked on by England Captain Steven Gerrard.

Suarez had earlier given Uruguay the lead when he scored a controlled header past Hart but the spine of the England team were largely at fault.

Gerrard and Jordan Henderson were caught out and allowed Nicolas Lodeiro space in midfield and teed up Edinson Cavini who easily lost Glen Johnson and FCavani’s cross was headed in by El Pistolero when Phil Jagielka failed to follow the runner.

Bolt from the Sky Blue: Star Suarez breaks England hearts.

Bolt from the Sky Blue: Star Suarez breaks England hearts.

England did show signs of promise in the first period though, Wayne Rooney curled a free-kick narrowly past the post after ten minutes and later hit the bar with a close range header from Gerrard’s free-kick.

Uruguay threatened themselves after quarter of an hour when Jagielka’s sliced clearance landed at the feet of Cristian Rodriguez who shot inches over from the edge of the box.

A low Luis Suarez corner was also blazed over from Cavani.

Daniel Sturridge had the last opportunity though when Rooney’s intelligent through ball found the Liverpool man who had his shot from a tight angle parried by Fernando Muslera at his near post.

Controversy overshadowed the match however as the stand in Uruguay Captain Diego Godin should have been sent off for putting his elbow up to Sturridge’s face in a body check. He had previously been yellow carded for a handball.

The Three Lions now need Italy to defeat both Costa Rica tomorrow and Uruguay next Tuesday while England must also beat Costa Rica themselves, relying on goal difference, to have any chance of making it to round two.

 

 

 

Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica

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Underdogs Costa Rica provided the shock of the tournament so far with a stunning 1-3 win over a much fancied Uruguay side that finished fourth in the World Cup just four years ago.

Oscar Duarte was the hero for Costa Rica when he headed accurately past Muslera to send pre-tournament whipping boys into ecstasy. His first goal for his national side.

Things went from good to brilliant for Joel Campbell and co when Marco Urena slotted home past on onrushing Muslera, picking up man of the match Joel Campbell’s intelligent through ball.

The favourites took the lead though after 24 minutes through Edinson Cavani’s penalty, powered in low past Keynor Navas’ left hand side who dived the right way but just couldn’t get a hand to it.

Diego Lugano was the man who won the penalty when he was felled by a rugby tackle from behind by Junor Diaz.

Costa Rica scored a shock leveler on the 54 minute mark when a neat passing move was worked to Cristian Gamboa who delivered a superb cross that landed at the feet of Joel Campbell who took a touch before lashing the ball into the back of the net.

It was almost 1-3 when key man Campbell again went close, a curling effort from distance whistling past Muslera’s goal.

La Sele showed promise throughout the game, firstly when Campbell struck a fierce shot that flew just past the post.

They went close again when Christian Bolanos’ free-kick found itself at Giancarlo Gonzalez’s feet and a weak shot from him was deflected out for a corner which Uruguay dealt with.

Diego Forlan had Uruguay’s closest effort in the first half – a blocked shot by Duarte that was looping over Navas but he produced a fine stop to tip it over for a corner.

Despite being the much stronger team on paper, La Celeste just couldn’t find a way through, goal scorer Cavani had a half chance with a header but Navas was equal to it.

It got even more embarrassing for Uruguay when Maxi Pereira took a nasty and needless swipe at Campbell and saw red to sum up an awful night for the South Americans.

World Cup Preview: Costa Rica

Costa Rica go into this World Cup with every right to be downhearted, a group that will see them face Italy, Uruguay and England will almost certainly seal a first round exit.

If there is anything the Costa Ricans can be optimistic about, they will find it. Inspiration could be taken from their last World Cup appearance in 2006 that, although they lost every game, they were fairly competitive.

A narrow 4-2 loss to hosts Germany in game one of the tournament showed how they can worry the big sides. Paulo Wanchope leveled the scores at 1-1 in Munich while two of Germany’s goals – Phillip Lahm’s opener and Torsten Frings’ sealer were truly unstoppable.

Costa Rica have reached round two on previous occasion though, finishing second in a group of Brazil, Sweden and Scotland in Italia 90 before a 4-1 thrashing by Czechoslovakia.

Joel Campbell, on loan at Olympiakos from Arsenal, will be the inspiration in Brazil but he, and the rest of La Sele will need to have the best three games of their lives if they are going to upset all the odds in group D.