As the likes of Brazil and Spain have already found out to their costs, there doesn’t seem to be any such thing as “the easy way” at this World Cup finals. Not, of course, that the England national football team has much truck with the concept of such a thing. Where there might smith passage, England will usually find some degree of drama. Where we might expect drama, they will usually contrive to manfacture some sort of crisis, whether real or illusory. The atmosphere surrounding the England team this summer, has been very different to recent years. When they were beaten out of sight by Germany, there was considerable gnashing of teeth, as if such a thing happening should have been some sort of surprise.
It wasn’t, though. It really wasn’t. Since the summer of 2010, however, something has changed within the psyche of the English in terms of their relationship with their national football team. At the European Championships two years ago, ambitions were set at a more realistic level and, frustrating as yet another penalty shoot-out defeat might have been, England got through the group stage of the comeptition and kept Italy out or one hundred and twenty minutes before succumbing to the inevitable. With expectations fully adjusted, even a loss in the opening match has been treated with a somewhat sanguine attitude. England didn’t disgrace themselves in any way on Saturday night, and there were plenty of positives to be taken from their performance against an Italy team that we would expect to see featuring in the latter stages of the competition.
Whether this new new realism would survive defeat or a draw against Uruguay this evening, though, is a somewhat different matter. Defeat would mean elimination from the competition at an all bar mathematical level, and furthermore the English know that their chances of beating Uruguay this evening are considerably greater than perhaps they should be. Uruguay will be without half of what had already looked like a rather pedestrian defence last weekend, with Maxi Pereira suspended for his moment of petulance at the end of their three-one defeat at the hands of Costa Rica last weekend, whilst Diego Lugano is injured. Pereira and Lugano have one hundred and eighty-five international caps between them. That sort of experience can be invaluable to an entire team.
On top of that, there is the small matter of a certain Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, who returns from injury to play against a team containing five of his club team-mates. Suarez insists that he is “100% fit,” but few seem to be taking that at face value – after all, what else he could he possibly say if asked about that? – and a muted Suarez is probably A Good Thing for England. To highlight such potential shortcomings, however, is to gloss over the obvious talents that Uruguay have at ther disposal, such as Edinson Cavani. And we might well contend that a Uruguayan defence containing two fewer of those that were so hapless against Costa Rica on Saturday might be no bad thing for them. England, menwhile, are unchanged, with Wayne Rooney understood to be moving to the centre of the pitch. Perhaps he will be less anonymous there than he was on the left on Saturday. Then again, though, perhaps he won’t be. Anyway, it all kicks off at eight o’clock this evening, and I’ll be here with Rob Freeman – and whoever else chooses to pitch – from shortly prior to then. England, for once, doesn’t expect this summer, and that’s no bad thing at all.
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Joe Hart trying to get his head and shoulders to the corner there.
And the Gerrard-Suarez combination proves as lethal as it has done so often for Liverpool. A flick on from Gerrard and Suarez blasts it past Hart. Uruguay 2 England 1.
And England do score this evening. Glen Johnson goes on a run, cuts inside, and lays on a tap-in for Rooney, who can’t miss from three yards out.
Oh my god. Thank bloody hell for that. Think I woke all the kids in my street up.
Can’t believe that Lampard isn’t on yet.
I agree Ian, its him or Welbeck that should have gone.
And back in the room. Laptop chose a good time to crash.
That would have been my choice…
This better be an attacking substitution…
Crumbling like a digestive.
Who does Suarez think he is celebrating his goal. Has he forgotten which country he plays in?
If Rooney is going to score at a World Cup, now is the time!
Sturridge forces a save from Muslera, after a lovely through ball from Rooney.
My other half was chatting to a friend and just cheered in error. Think we might be over.
First goalscorer here is Luis Suarez. Cavani chucks a floater in, and Suarez heads past Hart.
Henderson is moving the ball around really well tonight. He always seems to retain possession.
That was a sure fire floater.
And Rooney heads a shot against the woodwork from a freekick for a foul on Sturridge.
That should have been the end of Godin’s night.
Cavani puts a shot over the bar from a corner. These shots are slowly getting further and further away from goal.
“Don’t wait for Joe Hart” (Translation: Don’t trust Joe Hart)
When will someone put Suarez in has place again, Ian?
Is this game any good? I can’t tell when it comes to England.
Godin booked for a handball on the edge of the box, and Rooney curls the resulting free kick about two inches wide.
Ooooooh. Just pasting a Youtube URL converts it to an embedded video.
For alternative national anthem, can we have Luke Haines’ “Here’s to Old England”?
Here’s to old England
Sliced white bread and milky tea
Sarcasm, a well developed
Sense of irony
Here’s to old England
Rotting teeth and clotted cream
I promise to do my bit
And cheer the home team on to victory
The Uruguayan keeper is wearing tights. Orange tights.
Clive Tyldesley: “You’re not supposed to enjoy watching England at World Cups”
Especially when they’re on ITV.
Nice national anthem there.
I’ve just read my son “That boy should play for England” by Alan Ahlberg as his bedtime story…he was unimpressed, can’t decide if this is a good or bad omen.