Football

The big battles

In the do-or-die Group D clash, Neil Humphreys looks at which key battles might settle the contest.

CAVANI v CAHILL

Much is made of Luis Suarez's return, but he will overlap and switch flanks pulling defenders away from the penalty box and each other.

Against Italy, Cahill struggled against the physical presence of Mario Balotelli and lost him for the decisive goal. Cavani cost Paris Saint-Germain US$84 million last year and needs to make his mark on the tournament before it's too late. While Suarez pivots, Cavani will try to muscle in. Cahill must not lose a second big man.

 

LUGANO v STURRIDGE

He's a defensive stalwart and Uruguay skipper, but Lugano is 33 years old and exposed by West Brom's opponents last season and by Costa Rica last week.

Uruguay's defensive frailties are well known, particularly in the light of Maxi Pereira's suspension and England should offer a greater attacking threat than the Costa Ricans.

Sturridge took his goal well against Italy and is proving to be a calming, entertaining influence on the camp. He will expect to add to his goal tally.

FUCILE v STERLING

England's progress now rests on the slender shoulders of the unfazed 19-year-old Liverpool winger.

Of the emerging youngsters, Sterling evokes genuine fear in opponents. His instinct makes him unpredictable and - at times - unplayable.

He is likely to interchange with Welbeck, taking turns to unleash his speed on Fucile and Caceres.

The fullbacks are in for a long afternoon.

GODIN v ROONEY

Assuming Rooney plays in the hole, he must torment the younger of the two centre-backs. The burly striker is now a veteran, but England still expects.

That monkey on the back is doggedly persistent. He desperately needs a first World Cup Finals goal. Failing that, a decent outing in a Three Lions jersey will do for now.

If he gets the coveted No. 10 role as expected, the assured Atletico Madrid centre-back stands in his way.

World Cup