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Paul Scholes exclusive: Wayne Rooney can destroy Uruguay’s weak link

The Paddy Power Blog's lead pundit for the World Cup is loving the football so far. Read on for his thoughts on England's make-or-break group game against Uruguay...

by Paul Scholes | June 18, 2014

It’s been a fantastic World Cup (bar Iran v Nigeria) with positive, attacking play but some very suspect defending, and that can play into England’s hands on Thursday against Uruguay.

Diego Godin won La Liga with Atletico Madrid last season and now that Diego Lugano is out injured, Godin could be joined by 19-year-old club mate Jose Maria Gimenez or Liverpool’s Sebastian Coates at the heart of the defence.

Wayne Rooney can destroy Uruguay’s defence, if Wayne is played in his best position. I’ve read that Rooney stayed for extra shooting practice after training with England on Monday. It doesn’t surprise me. That’s standard Wayne – he’d be out all day and you’d have to drag him in. But I’ll say it again, Wayne has to play up front. Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer have repeated it on the BBC. Play our best goalscorer in his best position and he’ll get goals. His record at international level supports that. It’s not rocket science.

Paul Scholes' team to face Uruguay

[The team I’d pick to face Uruguay is the same as my XI for the Italy game]


Uruguay are poor in midfield and poor at the back but we know the real threats: Edinson Cavani – who’s got a very good record for club and country – and the returning Luis Suarez. Suarez is expected to start his first game in more than five weeks against England after an operation to repair meniscus damage on his knee. I’ve had similar problems and, in my experience, the first game back can be easier than the second game – good training and adrenaline gets you through the first match.

Suarez reminds me of Carlos Tevez. He’s a nuisance – never gives you a minute’s peace. Suarez is also a lucky player. The ball seems to bounce off him into the right place. Luck or skill – he gets breaks other forwards don’t.

In 2012/2013 Suarez was pretty selfish and missed too many chances for Liverpool. Thinking of my time at Man United we didn’t worry about Suarez much – he’d barely get a kick at Old Trafford and I don’t remember any specific strategy to try to stop him playing, like we did with Park Ji-Sung on Andrea Pirlo in the Champions League, for example.

Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez (L) shoots to score his second goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane in London, England, on December 15, 2013. Liverpool won 5-0. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR LIVE SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

MAN ON FIRE: Suarez scores against Spurs last season – he was a transformed player and was less selfish

Last season Suarez changed his game and wasn’t just thinking about himself. It made him a better player, especially in his partnership with Daniel Sturridge. His performances against Man United changed too – the 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford, where Suarez scored, was a horror show from my perspective.

Roy Hodgson has questioned whether Suarez is world class yet and challenged him to do it at the highest level. This can be a dangerous thing: ask David Moyes. Before Everton played Liverpool in October 2012 I remember Moyes had a pop at Suarez over his diving. A few days later Suarez celebrated a goal by diving in front of Moyes in the dug-out.

Suarez says he’s ‘100% fit’ now. But is he fit enough? However 100% he feels after training, playing matches at this level is completely different – England could get lucky in this regard.

Scholes’ match prediction

This game will be a shootout, and there’ll be goals [both teams to score is 8/11]. England should beat Uruguay, they’ll certainly beat Costa Rica. It’s very hard to predict this one. 3-2 England. [England to beat Uruguay 3-2 is 35/1].

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Paul Scholes on Cristiano Ronaldo…

Ronaldo is dedicated to his profession like nobody else. I’ve never met a harder-working player. The talent he’s got is incredible. I’ve watched him train hard, go in and do weights, then afterwards he’d be there for two hours practising free-kicks. There is no doubt Ronaldo (below) has become the absolute best he can.

Ultimately though, against Germany on Monday, he was let down by his Portugal team-mate Pepe. What an absolute clown. One moment of madness can change everything.

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