Sebastián Coates will be flying the flag for Scotland this Thursday as Uruguay battles it out against England for the qualifying spot.
Previous losses for La Celeste and the Three Lions have left both teams in a vulnerable position, making them all the more bloodthirsty for victory to get through the group stages.
What England doesn’t know, however, is that Uruguay has a secret weapon – Scottish blood. Liverpool defender Sebastián Coates Nion, born to a Scottish father and a Uruguayan mother, has had many Scots placing their bets on Uruguay to take the English down at the Arena de Sao Paulo on Thursday.
Indeed, even bookmakers are cashing in on Coates’ ball skills, with Coral giving Uruguay odds of 10/1 to beat Hodgson’s men 1-0. That’s a very reasonable bet for Scotland, who will be hoping to see the English destroyed, with current odds of England going home stacked at 5/2.
Coates’ 6”6 of pure Scottish muscle will be an unstoppable force against the English: despite his size, he has proven himself to be an agile player with a keen eye for a header and he doesn’t stray from a tackle.
What’s more, relatively few appearances at Liverpool since being signed for them in 2011 may have left a bitter taste in Coates’ mouth, particularly after losing out to Manchester City on goal difference in this year’s Premier League. Coates is not a happy chappy when it comes to English teams, and he’ll certainly have his eye on Joe Hart as the teams go head to head.
Is Suárez’s bark bigger than his bite?
Of course, another glimmer of hope for Scottish fans will be Luis Suárez’s highly contested return to the pitch on Thursday. After sitting on the bench during Uruguay’s defeat to Costa Rica, Suárez will be praying that he is fit enough to overcome his knee injury and go out and do what he does best.
Having already established chemistry together during their time at Liverpool, the combination of Suárez and Coates could prove a formidable force which is likely to leave the England team quaking in their boots.
England Captain Roy Hodgson is remarkably complacent however, particularly when it comes to Suárez.
“I think he will only be at that level when he shows it on this particular stage,” he said.
“You can be a great player in your league but for the world to recognise you are one of the all-time greats you have got to do it at the World Cup.”
Think what you want, Roy, but you don’t have the gift of Scottish blood behind you.