Uruguay v England: Wayne Rooney central role should punish rigid Uruguay

A tactical look at tonight's Group D encounter

From Tim Cahill to Mario Balotelli, it has been a theme of this World Cup that a country’s big players have delivered. That is the context in which Wayne Rooney is being judged. Having made England’s goal, found space for a good shooting chance himself, and covered more ground in the heat of Manaus than anyone else, it is hardly surprising he was unhappy at some of the criticism he received after the defeat to Italy. But he is being measured against the best.

LIVE: Follow the latest news as England play Uruguay, plus Colombia v Ivory Coast and Japan v Greece

Tonight he should have the chance to meet those high expectations. Rooney, it appears, will be back at the hub of the attack, in what is probably his best position. Rooney prefers to play centre-forward rather than No 10, but lacks real pace. What he does have is good vision and the passing range to take advantage of it, which is why many coaches have deployed him behind the main striker.

Tonight he should flourish there because Uruguay, unlike Italy, are likely to allow space in the hole to play.

It was extraordinary watching Uruguay against Costa Rica. At World Cup 2010 they were one of the most fluid teams going forward, able to adapt to the match situation with impressive tactical dexterity. On Saturday, strip out the World Cup trappings, and it could have been an English team from the 1980s.

Read more: Suarez factor poses England biggest test
Oxlade-Chamberlain will not be risked
Gerrard: No hiding place if we lose

Uruguay played a rigid  4-4-2. The back four were square with the full-backs rarely venturing forward, the midfield flat and the front two often left detached and chasing long balls.

They cannot possibly be as poor again. Luis Suarez, whatever his match fitness, will make them less formulaic and more formidable going forward. However, Oscar Tabarez, Uruguay’s coach, only has one magician up his sleeve. Defensively, he must work with what he has.

That should be good news for Rooney and the rest of England’s attacking players. The Uruguay central defence lacks pace, and while Diego Lugano’s absence may temper that weakness, they will still be reluctant to push up against players as quick as Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Danny Welbeck. The midfield cannot go too deep or they will leave Suarez and Edinson Cavani isolated.

That will leave space to operate in between the lines for Rooney – or whoever plays at No 10, as Roy Hodgson’s England often rotate positionally.  He can pick up a pass from Steven Gerrard in deep midfield, turn, draw a defender, then slip a ball through for Sterling, Welbeck or Sturridge to sprint on to. If the central defenders sit off Rooney, he can shoot, and maybe score that elusive first World Cup goal.

It is possible that Tabarez, needing to win the game even more than Hodgson does, will tinker with his formation and play a diamond midfield with Diego Forlan or Nicolas Lodeiro at its head. That could mean Egidio Arevalo Rios dropping off to pick up Rooney, but one would still expect him to find the space to cause Uruguay problems.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week