Uruguay has a lot of work to do to match their finish in the 2010 World Cup. They will bring back a large core of players with plenty of international experience. They also bring the current best player in the world in Luis Suarez. Their group is by no means easy and advancing to the second round is not a guarantee. It will be Uruguay’s second match against England that will determine if they move on to the second round.
Uruguay figures to match up with Costa Rica in the first match on June 14. Costa Rica has lost three of their last four matches since qualifying for the World Cup. Uruguay has never lost a match to Costa Rica and the Ticos did not make the 2010 World Cup. Costa Rica is the last place team in this group according to FIFA ranking, so Uruguay should get all three points.
With Italy in the group, the match between Uruguay and England should determine who moves on in the round of 16. The two nations have not faced off in the World Cup since a goalless draw in 1966. The overall head-to-head record is pretty even with England winning the last match seven years ago.
Uruguay’s passing efficiency was poor in their qualification run, but the question is can the England team capitalize on their opportunities. England will have to win the midfield battle. Ross Barkley will carry a big burden on an England side that is regaining confidence. There will be a battle with Cristian Rodriguez. If Uruguay wins this battle then they win the match.
The advantage for Uruguay is at striker with Suarez knowing many of his opponents. Given his prolific nature in the Premier League, it seem like Suarez could find a few holes. However, the England attackers may not be able to split the defenders and get space where there seems to be none the way that Suarez can on the other end.
The Uruguay match with England will be decided in the middle of the field. If Suarez gets a lot of chances to run at the England back line, then this could be well in hand. Both teams need this match to move on so it will be good soccer. Uruguay should not expect points against Italy and should prioritize their first two matches.