Rooney situation becoming a problem
Roy Hodgson elected to select Wayne Rooney on the left of an attacking three and the Manchester United man put in a pretty anonymous performance – bar his assist for Daniel Sturridge’s equaliser in the 2-1 defeat against Italy. Given past performances for United and now England when jettisoned from his favoured position, an argument could be constructed that if Rooney doesn’t feel that he is the fulcrum of the team then he struggles to perform. As such, if Hodgson is to persist with Raheem Sterling in Rooney’s favoured position behind the striker – which he should following a standout performance from the Liverpool man – then Hodgson should consider dropping Rooney altogether. This would allow a more natural wide player stationed out there and would crucially afford Leighton Baines some cover that was sorely missing against Italy.
Costa Rica were mightily impressive in their surprise win over Uruguay in their Group D fixture on Saturday evening. So impressive, in fact, that their performance can’t be filed under ‘freak result’. Their win has turned Group D into a legitimate four-way race for the two qualification spots. And the run of fixtures do not favour England either. Up next are Uruguay on Thursday – who surely can’t be as bad as they were against Costa Rica – and if they navigate that then it is the buoyant Costa Ricans the following Tuesday.
Colombia have set the early benchmark for dance moves
Brazil may have won their opening match of the tournament, but their South American rivals lead the way in terms of dancing. When Pablo Armero found the net on five minutes, we were treated to scenes livelier than the Ministry of Sound. A great three points, but a fine example of catching the mood and responding to some bouncing fans in Belo Horizonte.
Greek defending at Euro 2004 is better appreciated a decade on
The goals have been flying in during the opening moments of this World Cup, but the defending has not been. As we witnessed in Spain's 5-1 mauling by the Netherlands on Friday and Greece's sloppy marking in a 3-0 loss to Colombia. It is a decade since Otto Rehhagel's side managed to lift the country's first major title. They never lost a goal from the quarter-finals onwards in that tournament sneaking 1-0 wins against France, Czech Republic and hosts Portugal. They did so with a redoubtable defence that included Traianos Dellas and Giourkas Seitaridis while offensively they boasted Theodoros Zagorakis in midfield. Heady days indeed when you study the present lot.
England fans still get excited about international football
England may not expect, but that doesn't stop the fans from hoping. The death of international football in the home of football has been exaggerated. The Premier League may hold sway in England, but there remains enough interest in the country's national team. That much was evident when you were out and about yesterday. Supermarkets, boozers, shops and car were all waving the flag of St George on a sunny Saturday. Forget that: England expected. It almost looked like Nigel Farage's vision of the place.
Uruguay are nothing without Luis Suarez
The Liverpool forward is one of the world's leading strikers. He cut a forlorn figure during his side's 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica. Perhaps he wasn't fully fit, but he wasn't risked by coach Oscar Tabarez. It proved to be a costly decision. Edinson Cavani is good, but never as potent without Suarez alongside him. With 38 goals in 77 appearances, expect Suarez to make a timely return when Uruguay face England on Thursday. They need him otherwise they will be out of this World Cup.
Can the ‘Golden Generation’ finally fulfil their potential?
Ivory Coast got their campaign off to a solid start as they came from behind to beat Japan 2-1 in their opening game of the World Cup. They will be expected to comfortably beat a very functional Greece side and should battle it out with Colombia for top spot in Group C. Having flattered to deceive on many previous occasions, could this group of players be about to finally fulfil their potential with a marquee tournament performance? Things are looking promising.
- Sports & Recreation
- Wayne Rooney
- Costa Rica
- Roy Hodgson