Uruguay vs. England: Tactical Preview of World Cup Group D Match

Sam TigheFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 23, 2017

MANAUS, BRAZIL - JUNE 14:  Raheem Sterling of England controls teh ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between England and Italy at Arena Amazonia on June 14, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

The first round of group-stage matches is in the books at the FIFA World Cup 2014, and now we turn our attention to the second lot.

Group D started superbly for Italy and Costa Rica but rather poorly for England and Uruguay, with both sides now searching for a victory that can heighten their chances of qualifying. A draw would do to keep themselves alive, but the win is what they need on Thursday.



Uruguay laid the most sizeable of eggs in their opener, losing 3-1 to a Costa Rican side fancied only for their defensive nous and not for their ability to bag three in one match.

La Celeste limped over the line and into the World Cup finals courtesy of a play-off victory over Jordan, but while many thought Oscar Tabarez's men would buck up for the tournament proper, it seems they're still stuck in reverse gear.

The 4-4-2 was horrid; rigid and uninspiring. Diego Forlan played poorly, Edinson Cavani had an off day and Christian Stuani offered little in the way of guile. Even Maxi Pereira, the right-back, refused to bomb forward and make the difference in the final third as he so often does.

Possible Uruguay XI.
Possible Uruguay XI.@stighefootball

Diego Godin, fresh off a wonderful season with Atletico Madrid, looked just as calamitous as his partner, Diego Lugano (who's now injured). On the whole, there was no movement, no ingenuity and no spark.



England can consider themselves unfortunate to sit pointless after giving Italy a real fight in the opener, and the manner in which Roy Hodgson's team played was a big positive.

But the fact remains they need a victory here to stand any hope of winning Group D, and that's a mantra the Three Lions will adopt in preparation for this tussle.

Possible England XI. Sterling could switch inside, Chamberlain could be fit.
Possible England XI. Sterling could switch inside, Chamberlain could be fit.@stighefootball

England played good football for long spells against the Azzurri but fell behind and couldn't make up the ground. Hodgson make a few tactical errors late on, sending more and more dribblers on rather than a player who can turn between the lines (Adam Lallana), but overall it was one of the best showings since Colombia at the 1998 World Cup.

Wayne Rooney's performance was heavily criticised, but Hodgson stands firmly behind his man.

"I'm more than satisfied with Rooney's performance with Italy," he told Sam Wallace of The Independent. "It's interesting to see he ran more than any other England player, more sprints than any other England player."


2 Tactical Factors

1. Uruguay's Full-back Arrangement

Uruguay have a tiny squad picked from an exceptionally shallow pool of talent, and that means suspensions and injuries are a big problem for Tabarez.

Pereira's silly red card at the end of the Costa Rica loss could cost them dearly, as they'll now reshuffle the back line and start shoe-horning players into positions.

They were already playing with right-footed Martin Caceres at left-back, and he could be moved over to make way for Alvaro Pereira (on loan in Brazil) or Jorge Fucile (hasn't played in six months).

England can pick and choose the way in which they wish to attack this weakness, committing the right men in the right areas to turn them inside out.


2. Static vs. Fluid

England impressed against Italy, moving the ball fluidly and attacking with venom.

Sterling, in particular, excited the crowd by surging forward, taking players on and showcasing his agility, and Uruguay's midfielders won't exactly be delighted about the prospect of facing him.

Credit: B/R

La Celeste were rigid and uninspiring in their opener, and despite playing Stuani, Forlan and Cavani in advanced areas where they could interlink and confuse Costa Rica's defence, the buildup was laborious and slow at the best of times.

Suarez is certain to inject some creativity and dynamism, but can he single-handedly turn this ship around? The problems aren't localised to the attacking setup, and we could well see another turgid Uruguayan display.


Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.