- POSTED: 19 Jun 2014 09:57
England and Uruguay will be among four teams battling to avoid an early World Cup exit on Thursday in the wake of Spain's shock elimination.
SAO PAULO: England and Uruguay will be among four teams battling to avoid an early World Cup exit on Thursday in the wake of Spain's shock elimination.
Twenty-four hours after Spain were dumped out with a 2-0 loss to Chile -- a result which also ended Australia's campaign -- four sides face second group matches where defeat would leave their further participation hanging by a thread.
The pick of the day's collisions sees England and Uruguay face off at 4pm (1900 GMT) in Group D at the Sao Paulo Arena.
Neither side has any margin for error after England opened with a 2-1 defeat to Italy following Uruguay's 3-1 loss to Costa Rica.
The match is expected to see Uruguay's star Luis Suarez pressed into action after undergoing knee surgery last month.
Uruguay badly missed the Liverpool striker's firepower against Costa Rica but coach Oscar Tabarez refused to confirm whether Suarez will start.
England manager Roy Hodgson expects Suarez to play.
"We believe Luis Suarez will come back and that will be a big boost for them, not just as a player but as a sort of confidence booster for the whole team," Hodgson said.
Hodgson's biggest dilemma has revolved around finding the best position for Wayne Rooney, with the Manchester United star expected to be moved to a more central role after being stationed on the left flank against Italy.
Tabarez meanwhile must patch up a defence which will be missing captain Diego Lugano (knee) and Maxi Pereira (suspended).
In other games on Thursday, Japan and Greece face a similar high stakes encounter in their Group C meeting in Natal, which kicks off at 7pm (2200 GMT).
With Japan outmuscled by Ivory Coast 2-1 and Greece thumped 3-0 by Colombia on Saturday, defeat for either side is likely to be fatal.
Japan's English-based defender Maya Yoshida believes it will be crucial for the Blue Samurai to score first.
"Of course we lost the first match so at the moment we're very disappointed but we still have two games to go," said Yoshida.
But Yoshida was adamant the Asian giants had not given up hope of progressing to the knockout rounds for only the third time in their history.
"Greece lost as well. They have good defenders and tactics," said Yoshida.
"They have a good orientation defensively so if we get the first goal they have to come forward so we will have a chance to take more initiative."
Colombia meanwhile will aim to take a giant stride towards the knockout round as they face the Ivory Coast in Brasilia, which kicks off at 1pm (1600 GMT).
Colombia's Inter Milan midfielder Fredy Guarin said the South Americans must neuter the Ivorians physical presence, which proved too much for Japan.
"They're a very physically strong team who fight for every ball and will rely on their physicality to try to beat us, but with our football, our passing and control of the ball we can have success," said the 27-year-old.
"To beat them we have a plan and we mustn't have any doubts about that plan.
"We have to be very intelligent, always keep the game under control, don't give the ball away and take a breather with the ball, but above all have confidence in what we're doing."