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The Sport Matrix: Thursday 12 June 2014

Rooney eager to make it third time lucky in Brazil

Wayne Rooney is determined to finally make his mark in a World Cup finals, having failed to score in his eight appearances across the last two tournaments.

The Manchester United forward returned too soon from a metatarsal injury in Germany eight summers ago, seeing red in the quarter-final defeat by Portugal, while he was suffering from an ankle complaint going into the 2010 finals in South Africa, where he failed to impress in England’s four matches.

“I’ve maybe put myself under too much pressure,” he said ahead of the opening match with Italy in Manaus this weekend. “You guys [the media] have put me under a lot of pressure.

“I’ve learned to enjoy this one because I haven’t enjoyed the last ones. They’ve not gone well. All of a sudden you’re looking back and didn’t enjoy it. This one I’m going to enjoy regardless. I’m going to take positive memories.” MORE

England-Italy pitch in “bad shape”

The Manaus pitch on which England and Italy kick-off their campaign on Saturday is a threadbare, sand-strewn surface. “Frankly, Manaus is in bad shape,” a groundsman said yesterday. “I don’t think it will be in good condition [for the match].” MORE

Oscar set to play pivotal role

Chelsea midfielder Oscar is likely to have as big a role as Neymar for Brazil in tonight’s opening match with Croatia in Sao Paulo. Luis Gustavo and Paulinho will guard the backline as the hosts seek to start their campaign on the offensive. MORE

Talented trio ready to upset the hosts

Niko Kovac’s side have the capability to upset the hosts in tonight’s opener. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic can create from midfield, behind the talented  No 10 Mateo Kovacic. MORE

Murray seeking strong coach

Andy Murray is looking forward to working with new coach Amélie Mauresmo. “It’s about the total package that she can offer,” the Scot said after his Queens win over Paul-Henri Mathieu. “She achieved a lot in her career. She’s a strong character as well.” MORE

Cook defends omission of pair

England captain Alastair Cook has defended the decision to omit Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes from the first Test against Sri Lanka, which starts today. “Stokesy wasn’t quite ready,” Cook said. “He would have been rusty. I’ve no doubt Jos will play Test cricket for England.” MORE

Golden bear inspires McIlroy

Rory McIlroy hopes to utilise the wisdom of Jack Nicklaus as he takes on the US Open this week. “Some of the things he said, I’m really thinking about this week,” he said. “He was a great US Open player and hopefully some of those little nuggets of wisdom might help this week.” MORE

Smethurst earns wild card reward

Briton Dan Smethurst has been rewarded for his tireless work ethic after being awarded a wild card for Wimbledon. The 23-year-old broke into the world’s top 250 last month, having played more matches than Rafael Nadal this calendar year. MORE

Carberry helps Hampshire to draw

A century from Michael Carberry helped Hampshire hold Worcestershire to a draw in the County Championship yesterday. His 125 was part of the visitors’ declaration of 321 for five after they resumed on 31-1 in their follow-on. MORE

Tuilagi given flight by Lancaster

England coach Stuart Lancaster is confident of levelling the series against New Zealand after moving Manu Tuilagi from centre to wing for the second Test. “We have some real options,” he said. “We have pace and power and think we have the right balance.” MORE

Tour winner Wiggo makes Glasgow

Sir Bradley Wiggins was among eight Olympic champions included in England’s Commonwealth Games team yesterday. Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and Dani King are also included in a strong line-up. MORE

Rafael Benitez

The simple idea is to man-mark Andrea Pirlo. Simple in theory? Maybe. Simple in practice? No. The midfielder will still have the ability to find space and put in the pass that can change everything. MORE

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