England’s final World Cup 2014 match is fast approaching, and while spirits may be at an all-time low among fans, the clash with Costa Rica should provide a few reasons for optimism.
With Roy Hodgson set to field England’s youngsters in the dead-rubber encounter, fans will have the chance to see the future of their national team demonstrate just how bright that future is.
However, Costa Rica have proven that they’re not a team to be taken lightly at the World Cup with victories over Uruguay and Italy cementing their place in the last 16, and England’s young lions have a job to do in Belo Horizonte.
Venue: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
Date: Tuesday, June 24
Time: 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
Starting Line-up Revealed by Roy Hodgson
The England manager has revealed at his pre-match press conference who will be taking to the turf on Tuesday, per England on Twitter:
RH: Foster, Jones, Cahill, Smalling, Shaw, Milner, Lampard, Wilshere, Barkley, Lallana, Sturridge to start tomorrow against Costa Rica— England (@england) June 23, 2014
Lampard has 105 England caps heading into the final Group D clash, according to SoccerWay, and will be looking to go out with a bang if he decides to retire at the end of the tournament.
However, speaking with BBC Radio 5 live, the 36-year-old revealed that he’s not thinking about his retirement just yet and is focusing on the task at hand against the Costa Ricans—per The Press Association, via The Guardian:
I don’t know whether I will [retire] or not. I am going to get home and make a decision at that point because I have my own [club] future to sort out as well.
This is not the time and place to make the decision. Sometimes when you are away for a month you don’t always come up with the right judgement.
Lampard will be joined in midfield by two players who could be in the heart of the England setup for years to come—Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley.
Everton star Barkley has impressed from the substitutes’ bench during the World Cup and is rightly being given his chance from the start—though Joey Barton believes that his involvement from the start is coming a game late:
Not going to lie, I'm disappointed that Ross Barkley has been left out.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) June 19, 2014
Though Hodgson will always defend his team selections during England’s losses to Italy and Uruguay, the 66-year-old believes that his two young midfield maestros can prove their brilliance and take their chance—per England:
RH: Barkley and Wilshere both have a chance to really show they are good players, playing together with a lot of other young players— England (@england) June 23, 2014
If Wilshere finds a way to bring his club form to the international stage, then he will outline his credentials as a future World Cup star, while Barkley just needs to play like, well, Barkley.
The Everton star’s fearless attitude is admirable, and seeing him put in a man-of-the-match performance against Costa Rica is well within the realms of possibility.
Luke Shaw is another young player who has a bright international career ahead of him, but he’ll have his work cut out against the Costa Ricans.
Jorge Luis Pinto’s side showed during their clash with Uruguay just how ruthless their front line can be, with Opta Joe’s statistics summing it up:
3 - Costa Rica scored three goals from just four shots on target in their opening #WorldCup match. Deft.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2014
If Costa Rica can continue their form then England will struggle in Belo Horinzonte—the same setting of their 1950 World Cup embarrassment at the hands of USA.
Should history repeat itself, England will be heading out of the World Cup with three losses out of three, but with so many exciting players on the pitch, their attack could have the final say on proceedings as Group D comes to a close.
Prediction: Costa Rica 1-2 England