Key Selection Choices for Uruguay in World Cup Clash with England

Nick Dorrington@@chewingthecocaSpecial to Bleacher ReportJune 18, 2014

Key Selection Choices for Uruguay in World Cup Clash with England

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    After a disappointing and surprising defeat to Costa Rica in their opening match of the World Cup, there are likely to be a number of changes to the Uruguay side for their crucial clash with England on Thursday.

    Uruguay will again line up in a 4-4-2 formation, but Oscar Washington Tabarez is set to bring four new players into his starting XI in a bid to freshen up the side, ahead of a match they cannot afford to lose.

    “It’s a final and we need to win,” he said at a press conference on Monday, as per

    Here are Uruguay's key selection choices ahead of their World Cup clash with England in Sao Paulo.

Luis Suarez to Start?

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    Luis Suarez cut a frustrated figure on the substitutes bench during Uruguay’s defeat to Costa Rica. Tabarez elected not to risk him from the bench on his return from knee surgery, and in his absence Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani failed to spark as an attacking partnership.

    However, as per Ovacion Digital (h/t Press Association Sport), Suarez has declared himself “100% fit” for Thursday’s match. He is looking forward to facing some familiar foes:

    "I know all the players in the England squad, I know some of them because they are teammates or rivals. They have defensive deficiencies and we can take advantage of them."

    Suarez was included in Uruguay’s first-choice XI during training on both Monday and Tuesday. Despite Tabarez remaining coy about whether or not his star man will return to the side, everything points toward Suarez lining up alongside Cavani on Thursday.

The Makeup of Their Midfield

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    Uruguay fielded a flat midfield four in the defeat to Costa Rica, with Christian Stuani and Cristian Rodriguez on either flank and Egidio Arevalo Rios and Walter Gargano in the centre. Tabarez will probably stick with the same alignment but with a couple of personnel changes.

    As per Tenfield (in Spanish), Nicolas Lodeiro is likely to replace Gargano in the centre of the pitch after impressing Tabarez in his half-hour run-out against Costa Rica. His passing ability and quick acceleration will help Uruguay transition swiftly through midfield into the final third.

    Gaston Ramirez and Alvaro Gonzalez are the two players vying for a place on the right of midfield following Stuani’s under-par performance in Uruguay’s opener. Ramirez would be the more attacking option, but, as per Tenfield (in Spanish), it seems Gonzalez will get the nod for Thursday’s match.

    Tabarez is said to be keen to reduce the influence of Steven Gerrard and has decided that the neat and hard-working Gonzalez has the requisite attributes to fulfil a multifunctional role. The Lazio midfielder will be instructed to tuck inside and close down Gerrard when England are in possession.

Who Will Replace Maxi Pereira

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    Maxi Pereira was sent off in the defeat to Costa Rica after hacking out at Joel Campbell in second-half stoppage time. He will therefore miss the match against England through suspension.

    Jorge Fucile and Alvaro Pereira are the two recognised full-back options available to Tabarez, and one or the other will start on Thursday.

    Fucile has usually played at left-back for the national team in the past, but he is two-footed and could conceivably fill in on the other side of the defence. Pereira is more obviously left-footed, and his inclusion would see Martin Caceres move over to the right.

    Tenfield (in Spanish) reports that both players received minutes in the first XI during training on Monday, but Pereira emerged as the most likely starter during Tuesday's session.