For England and their fans, it's been another World Cup of regrets. Expectedly, the fierce English press have begun the post-mortem of another failed campaign. A lot of them feel Roy Hodgson should go, although, the coach himself has put up a defiant stance and expressed his satisfaction at the FA's decision to back him moving forward.
Personally, I wouldn't say Hodgson's optimism is misplaced. England did show some positive things against Italy and Uruguay, and to be fair to the coach, he did the best he could with the players he had at his disposal. I'm sure the FA has acknowledged that as well as Hodgson's extensive managerial experience. But I feel the main cause for concern for the coach lies in the fact that, if you look at the English Premier League, especially the top clubs, the most important positions on the pitch are all occupied by foreigners. At Manchester City, it's David Silva orchestrating the side's attacking moves, at Chelsea, it is Eden Hazard or Oscar, at Arsenal it is someone else. This doesn't paint a healthy picture for an England coach.
I heard Wayne Rooney's comments about England possibly paying the price for adhering to an honest approach and lacking a cynical side to their game in comparison to other teams. It could be a factor, but it's certainly not the only one.
So while England look to salvage something to savour when they tackle Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay will slug it out in Natal for a shot at joining the Costa Ricans in the last 16. This itself should make it an absorbing match. Uruguay fans will be hoping for a Luis Suarez encore, but overly depending on one player does have its pitfalls as we've seen so often.
Italy paid price for missing a couple of chances against Costa Rica when the game was still goalless. I also thought the Azzuri coach Prandelli erred in bringing Antonio Cassano on in the second half instead of Ciro Immobile, Serie A's top-scorer last season, at a time when Italy were looking for the equaliser. Let's face it, Mario Balotelli is not your classic centre-forward. He's the sort of player who floats around the attacking zone but Italy needed someone razor sharp in the box, and Cassano wasn't that player.
Uruguay have players who play or have played in Serie A and so know the Italian game well. But remember that Italy are the masters of obtaining the result they need even without necessarily having to play well.