Uruguay, England already in desperation mode

England's Frank Lampard attends a training session for the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,...

England's Frank Lampard attends a training session for the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 16, 2014. (RICARDO MORAES/Reuters)

Morris Dalla Costa, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:02 AM ET

RIO DE JANEIRO - Desperation, thy name is England and Uruguay.

After both opened the World Cup with losses, they will be playing just to stay in Brazil Thursday in Sao Paolo.

Uruguay is especially stunned to be in this situation. The 2012 World Cup semifinalist was shocked in its first group game, losing 3-1 to Costa Rica.

England had a much tougher opponent but also lost, 2-1 to Italy, after being clearly outplayed.

Based on performance, one would suspect that England is in better form than Uruguay. While Italy had the better of it, England did some good things.

But doing some good things isn't enough for England.

Usually it's the quarterfinals before the Three Lions enter desperation mode, losing on penalties or in some other audacious manner.

But for all the low expectations England watchers had going into the tournament, the idea of being eliminated in the first round would make even the most pessimistic fans choke on their crumpets.

It wouldn't be a World Cup without someone bearing the brunt of the focus of the English press.

This time it's Wayne Rooney. Even though he made a lovely cross for the England goal against Italy, he was criticized for not being active enough, not creating any chances for himself and not looking for the ball enough.

In order to alleviate the pressure on Rooney, manager Roy Hodgson may move him to his natural No. 10 forward position against Uruguay. Moving a powerful striker into the centre of the Uruguay defence might be the right thing to do.

But it's going to take a great deal more than moving Rooney to the middle to quiet critics and turn the England boat around. If he doesn't get any service, he'll be running around with nothing to do.

"If you are a human being, no matter how tough you are, if there are people constantly debating your position I don't see how that can be positive," said England midfielder Frank Lampard. "If you want people to do well, I don't see how you can keep focusing on one player rather than the team and say that might not be detrimental, no matter what the ability of the player, whether it's Messi or Neymar or whoever.

"We are slightly over-fixated on one player who has been our best player, our top goalscorer in qualifying and will break the England goal-scoring record. Wayne is an exceptional player, as we all know. If we are going to do well in this World Cup, players like Wayne are going to come to the fore because that is what they do."

The constant over-analyzing of everything England does is somewhat ridiculous. Most often England's failings have nothing to do with who plays in what position but in the fact England doesn't have enough skilled players to challenge for a World Cup.

After the loss to Costa Rica, it may be easy to write Uruguay off as being completely off form. But Uruguay will have a key addition that may trouble England's defence.

Striker Luis Suarez missed his team's game against Costa Rica. He will be ready to play England.

The key is his partnership with Diego Forlan. Both are capable of hurting the English.

Uruguay has been vilified in the wake of its loss to Costa Rica. No one expected that kind of performance and the players have been hearing about it every since the loss.

There is also a question of pride.

With every other South American nation playing outstanding soccer on its home continent, Uruguay won't want to be the first to go home.

Two desperate nations playing in desperate circumstances should provide some enticingly desperate incidents.

Now, that's World Cup stuff.


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