Preview: England v Ecuador
Crunch time. Of the teams left in Germany, England could not have picked an easier opponent than Ecuador. The weather forecast predicts stifling temperatures (not far off 100ºF) in Stuttgart this afternoon – a factor which will level the playing field for the South Americans. I see England taking a first-half lead, again, but it's how they cope in the second half which will determine the length of their stay in Germany. Intelligent substitutions are the order of the day if England are to go through. But will Sven have the cojones to substitute his one-paced, one-dimensional captain if things aren't going to plan? Or will it be deja vu all over again…
Team news As reported yesterday, Michael Carrick will play as the holding midfielder in a 4-5-1 (or 4-1-4-1) formation, with Wayne Rooney up front on his own. Owen Hargreaves drops to right-back, in place of Jamie Carragher. Rio Ferdinand has recovered from a slight groin strain and will also start. Carlos Tenorio and Augustin Delgado return to lead the line for Ecuador.
Player cam Sven has suddenly found faith in Michael Carrick, having dismissed him so far. This is a defining match for the Spurs man.
Prediction England 2-1 Ecuador (aet)