Roy’s boys still aiming to go out on a high.
England’s stock on the world stage has never been so low and Roy Hodgson will have a real problem raising team morale for a final World Cup Group D game against Costa Rica knowing the squad will be packing their bags and heading to the airport almost as soon as the final whistle blows.
It’s been a pretty disastrous campaign for England, who have had their deficiencies ruthlessly exposed in two defeat from two. Perhaps a way to get rid of any negativity would be to give a chance to some of the younger players who have been in Brazil but have yet to be given much of a chance.
Young guns Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana could hardly do any worse than the so-called senior players. Maybe Daniel Sturridge could be switched out wide to allow Rickie Lambert a run through the middle. He’d certainly give the Costa Rican defence something to think about, which is more than you could say about Italy’s forwards in Recife.
Considering how well they’d played against England, Cesare Pirandelli’s team were atrocious in defeat against Costa Rica with star names Mario Balotelli and Andreas Pirlo showing little interest.
Perhaps Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto will show England some mercy in Belo Horizonte. After all, his supposed minnows have already qualified for the knockout stages so there must be a temptation to rest some of his squad as they play a pressing game and fatigue is sure to play a part as the tournament progresses.
Striker Marco Urena, who plays his club football in Russia, must be close to a start having twice come off the bench – he scored in his team’s defeat of Uruguay and his pace would cause a suspect England defence all kinds of problems.
Bryan Ruiz might think he has something to prove having struggled to make an impact in the Premier League while Arsenal’s Joel Campbell could drop a few more hints to Arsene Wenger that he’s ready for his chance at the Emirates.
We’ll take a gamble that England still have a bit of pride in them and, with the chance that Costa Rica could just drop their standards a little, take Hodgson’s men to finally get a win at 4/5 even though the odds are unappealing. The 13/5 about a one-goal winning margin are more interesting at 13/5.
The match kicks off at 5pm UK time on Tuesday June 24th at the Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte.