Uruguay v England: Roy Hodgson given cause for cheer by Uruguay’s leaky defence

There are much positives to be had from their 3-1 defeat by Costa Rica

When Uruguay won the World Cup in Brazil, it coined a word that became part of the language of a nation who could not believe they had lost; Maracanazo – the disaster at the Maracana.

Sixty-four years on and they have not forgotten. In the wake of Uruguay’s jaw-dropping defeat to Costa Rica at the Estadio Castelao the Brazilian headlines gleefully spoke of Uruguay’s “Castelazo”.

Oscar Tabarez and Roy Hodgson, men who have a deep interest in history, would know that opening defeats are not invariably fatal. England have twice lost their first match of the tournament – to Hungary in 1962 and Portugal in 1986 – and both times they qualified from their group. Spain’s triumphant South African World Cup began with a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland.

The managers of Uruguay and England have the same number of points – nil – but there the similarities end. England’s group games are in a descending order of difficulty, while the Uruguayans finish up facing Italy. They, more than England, desperately require a win in Sao Paulo.

“Have we been eliminated? No and why should we think we are?” said Diego Forlan, who had seen the Costa Ricans snatch the game from his side in the space of three minutes.

The debate as to whether Luis Suarez will play on Thursday will grow ever more feverish, but Tabarez was clear that he had not been fit to face Costa Rica. “It was he who asked to be on the bench,” said Tabarez, who when a goal was desperately needed turned to other options. It is, however, Uruguay’s defence rather than their attack that will be the centre of Hodgson’s thinking. That was the key to Uruguay’s progress four years ago, conceding twice in the opening five games.


Their centre-halves, Diego Godin and Diego Lugano, had contrasting seasons – one winning La Liga with Atletico Madrid, the other considered surplus to requirements at West Bromwich Albion. Both looked vulnerable to a cross and the marauding presence of Joel Campbell.

Hodgson would have learned something else from Fortaleza, perhaps something he already knew. Costa Rica are nobody’s makeweights and in Keylor Navas they have an exceptional goalkeeper.

Costa Rica may have qualified for the last 16 in the 1990 World Cup but this was their greatest victory. Their hotel on the Fortaleza seafront was besieged by supporters long into the night. Campbell, who has not played a game for Arsenal but who tormented first Manchester United’s defence while on loan from Olympiakos and now Uruguay’s, is ready for the Emirates. The control and pace he displayed for the equaliser underlined the kind of quality Arsenal cannot afford to ignore.

 Paolo Wanchope, Costa Rica’s assistant manager, said: “He really wants to go back to Arsenal and play and I told him that the only way to do that was to show it out on the pitch.”

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