Liam Hoden’s World Cup Watch: It’s about to get Messi

The pressure is on Lionel Messi to dazzle at the World Cup
The pressure is on Lionel Messi to dazzle at the World Cup
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The morning after the night before. Some heavy eyes and some heavy hearts will be felt by supporters of the England persuasion this morning.

Away from the hangovers, there should be some genuine positivity about their prospects.

Thankfully, Uruguay’s shock 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica ensures England still have a strong chance of making it out of the group, provided they can overcome Suarez and co on Thursday.

But the real positivity should come from the positive manner in which England went about things, particularly in starting Raheem Sterling.

Defensively there were major problems but if they are going to go down, at least they will be doing so fighting on the front lines.

Click here for my thoughts on England straight after the final whistle.

And comment below or visit our Facebook page The Star Sport to let us know your views.

Arsenal fans will have some genuine excitement too given the way in which young striker Joel Campbell performed for Costa Rica.

Powerful, pacey and with great vision - surely this is the type of player the Gunners have been crying out for.

Campbell cancelled out Edinson Cavani’s penalty for Uruguay before Oscar Duarte and substitute Marcos Urena put Costa Rica in dreamland.

These are the stories that make the group stages so great, when genuine upsets occur. Uruguay may be nothing like the team from four years ago and missing Luis Suarez but this was still a surprising result and great to watch.

Greece’s phenomenal defensive record was blown apart by a Columbia side stating their dark horse credentials in emphatic style with a 3-0 win.

Pablo Armero, Teofilo Gutierrez and James Rodriguez all found the net.

The Greeks continued to show plenty of defensive resolve to stop the Columbians from running away with the game, but again they lacked the attacking threat to give themselves a chance of getting back into it.

Group C is wide open after two goals in two minutes from Ivory Coast saw them overturn a deficit to beat Japan 2-1.

Keisuke Honda’s stunning opener had Japan ahead early but Wilfried Bony equalised before Gervinho hit what proved to be the winner.

The real turning point of the game was the introduction of Didier Drogba off the bench on the hour. Drogba took the game by the scruff of the neck to get his side off to a strong start.

Three sides will outline their credentials as potential powers in this competition today with dark horses Switzerland, you-never-know-what-you’re-going-to-get France and the very exciting Argentina. It’s about to get Messi.

Highlights

- Thierry Henry’s cardigan. It might be ridiculously warm and humid in Brazil but that doesn’t mean top class fashion has to stop

- Uruguay’s Egidio Arévalo is the scariest footballer in the world. You wouldn’t fancy going into a tackle with him.

- The appearance of holographic players in the BBC studio doesn’t get any less unsettling.

- Didier Drogba proving that 36 is no age with his performance off the bench.

TONIGHT’S GAMES

Group E: Switzerland v Ecuador, Brasilia, 5pm kick off, ITV

Switzerland have always been stereotypically organised but the current crop finally boost some exciting attacking talent which make them genuine dark horses for this World Cup.

If there is some bubbling excitement for England’s group of young players who could emerge during this tournament, imagine what is like for the Swiss. The oldest of their four forwards is 24 and the first choice attacking midfielders are 21 and 25. They aren’t bad either. Xherdan Shaqiri, Josip Drmic and Granit Xhaka have all impressed.

They will look to counter attack quickly but will not sit back as deeply as other sides in the competition.

This Swiss team arrived in Brazil ranked sixth in the world. What could hurt their campaign is the identity of the opposition and the climate where their group games will take place. Tonight’s game with Ecuador is in Brasilia while their clash with another South American side Honduras is in Manaus, where England met Italy.

Ecuador’s home qualifying record was phenomenal given the opposition, with seven wins and a draw from their eight matches. But the big asterisk at the side of that record is the altitude they play at, making it almost impossible for the opposition to find their feet.

In truth, Ecuador are basic and flawed. They have some talented players with Jefferson Montero and Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia impressive on the wing and likely to deliver the chances. But defensively Ecuador are suspect, likely to be dominated in the middle of the park and caught out at the back.

Team news

Ecuador midfielder Christhian Noboa is a doubt while Edison Mendez or Carlos Gruezo are expected to vie to replace Segundo Castillo who will miss the tournament through a knee injury.

Verdict

The conditions should have an affect on this match with Ecuador naturally built to cope well. But Switzerland should have enough to at least shut out the South Americans and have enough talent get the goals, despite the climate.

Betting

Switzerland 6/4 Draw 9/4 Ecuador 9/4

Closer to home

Switzerland: Philippe Senderos (Aston Villa)

Ecuador: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)

Group E: France v Honduras, Porto Alegre, 8pm kick off, BBC

Team news

Olivier Giroud is expected to start in attack ahead of Antoine Griezmann and Loic Remy for France but there are no injury doubts for either side.

Betting

France 1/3 Draw 4/1 Honduras 10/1

Closer to home

France: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko (both Newcastle), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Oliver Giroud, Laurent Koscielny (both Arsenal), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City). Loic Remy (QPR), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)

Group F: Argentina v Bosnia and Hercegovina, Rio de Janeiro, 11pm kick off, BBC

Team news

Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain should play despite an ankle problem but Rodrigo Palacio is set to miss out with a similar issue. Bosnia boss Safet Susic is considering bolstering his midfield to counter Argentina and striker Vedad Ibisevic could make way while Sejad Salihovic is a doubt.

Betting

Argentina 4/11 Draw 4/1 Bosnia and Hercegovina 9/1

Closer to home

Argentina: Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Sergio Aguero (all Manchester City)

Bosnia: Asmir Begovic (Stoke), Edin Dzeko (Manchester City)