After covering the unlikely group of death, Group D is a different type of group with 3 solid teams instead of 4 and this group could also make the case of being another Group of Death. Group D contains Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, and Italy.
Uruguay – One of the big teams that made the semi-finals last year and hope to achieve that and more in this World Cup. Ranked at #7 in the FIFA Rankings, this team is definitely one that should be taken seriously and will show why during this group stage. They have the team to do everything they want to achieve this summer. Starting with their goalkeeper they have a solid starter in Fernando Muslera. At defense Uruguay has Diego Lugano, Maxi Pereira, Diego Godin(who has been playing brilliantly this season), and Martin Caceres. At the midfield there is Diego Perez, Cristian Rodriguez, and most likely Walter Gargano added in there as well. Up front you have 2 prime strikers in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani with a veteran great in Diego Forlan. To me their weakest area is the midfield, while they have loads of experience with them, they don’t have that one player that leads that team, one could make the case though that Cristian Rodriguez can change that after the wonderful season he had with Atletico Madrid. They are the favorites to win the group and rightfully so.
Costa Rica – A strange team here which was put in the unfortunate position of being in the same group as three of the best nations in the world soccer wise. But still they have an opportunity to do something, but then looking at the team, the chances that they do something get worse and worse. They are ranked 28th in the FIFA rankings and they ended up getting 2nd place in the CONCACAF Qualifiers. With that in mind, I see Costa Rica having no shot at advancing past the group stage at all. Just looking at their team, their only two notable players are Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz, both forwards for the team. This team unlike Chile and Japan, doesn’t have those superstars that can carry the team and cause everyone as a whole play better, and other than their notable players everyone else on that team is just average at best. The only thing that they have going for them is that they have experience together, and that can go a long way in most cases such as the Qualifiers, but this is the world cup and experience alone wont help them advance.
England – This team……I don’t really know what to make of them because they have the potential to do big things, but they can also be a team that just under performs in the competition. They’re currently ranked #10 in the FIFA rankings and have a team that juts like Uruguay, can do whatever they want in this World Cup, it just comes down to performance. Looking at their squad, you have Joe Hart at the goalkeeper position. Then you’ve got Glen Johnson, Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, and Phil Jagielka on defense which is really strong on it’s own. Moving onto the midfield, they have Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Jack Wilshere attacking which is a great mix of veteran talent with the youth that’s needed to control the midfield. Lastly, up front you have Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney, and Danny Welbeck which has the speed in Sturridge and Welbeck with the finishing and creating in Rooney that England needs to succeed. All in all this team is very solid in all aspects and they have a solid chance of doing good things here. It just depends on how well they play together and if they can finish the job when it comes time to score.
Italy – This team is one to watch, because this team will determine who moves on to the next round and who has to go back home because they got 3rd or 4th place in the group. They’re ranked 9th in the FIFA rankings and just like England and Uruguay, can do what they want in this World Cup as long as they play well together. Their team is outstanding in every way. Starting at goalkeeper is arguably one of the Top 3 goalkeepers in the world while being 36 years of age in Gianluigi Buffon. Then you have one of the best defenses in this World Cup with Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, and Christian Maggio with a possibility that Ignazio Abate gets some minutes at right back for Italy if they decide to go with 4 at the back. At the midfield they have the legends Andrea Pirlo and Daniele Di Rossi, alongside him is Claudio Marchisio. Then up front you have Antonio Cassano, Mario Balotelli, and hopefully an appearance of Lorenzo Insigne to help out. This team is built strong and experienced with loads of talent on every position. This team is known for relying on defense to win games but with Mario Balotelli, that changes because you have a very capable scorer in Balotelli that can change games at any second. This is another group of death, and Italy may be one of the casualties of this group, but their great players may be the reason they don’t fall early.
Uruguay vs Costa Rica – 2-0
Italy vs England – 1-0
Uruguay vs England – 1-1
Italy vs Costa Rica – 2-0
Italy vs Uruguay – 0-0
England vs Costa Rica – 2-1
1. Italy – 7 points
2. Uruguay – 5 points
3. England – 4 points
4. Costa Rica – 0 points
This will be a highly defensive group where it will come down to which defense breaks first in order to see who wins games and ultimately who moves on from this group. Italy has the best defense out of the 4 teams here and Uruguay has the best superstars in this group. England is the odd team out here as their best position is at the midfield but in the end, I predict them to get a draw with Uruguay because they’ll be pressured for results. In the end though, I see England getting close with Uruguay in points but will not have the points over them because of a struggle against Italy which ultimately ends up being the reason why England will be casualty in this group of death.
Key Game – Uruguay vs England
This match will determine who goes on. England will most likely need a win and nothing less in order to have a chance to advance because I don’t see them getting any points against Italy compared to Uruguay. In the end these teams will be dead even and cause England to get 3rd place in the group.
Ones to Watch –
Luis Suarez – Luis Suarez has been having a ridiculous year. He had 31 goals in 33 games this season for Liverpool. That is almost 1 goal a game! That’s absolutely mental for a striker. He’s in the best form that a striker can be in and is arguably the best striker in the game right now except for one who’s not in the World Cup sadly. But back to Suarez, his great season will continue at the World Cup, granted that he comes back from that minor knee injury he had in practice. In a defense filled group, Suarez will have at least 2 goals in this World Cup group stage.
Diego Godin – Speaking of defense, Godin is a prime example of an excellent defensive player. He’s had a great season at Atletico Madrid and has had is share of key goals in big games, against Barcelona which led to them winning the league title, and the goal that would have won the UEFA Champions league had they held out the entire 95 minutes. Godin has played on big stages before and has played for Uruguay plenty of times now so I expect him to be a lockdown defender that is going to lead his defense to at least one clean-sheet during this group stage.
Daniel Sturridge – This man will help Wayne Rooney so much that he will be key here. If he can get going during this World Cup, then Englands chances of advancing gets even higher. Will he be able to handle the pressure of being the guy that Wayne Rooney relies on to relieve the pressure the opposition has on him? I think he’ll be able to do that somewhat and score 1 goal and 1 assist during the group stage.
Mario Balotelli – He is the man Italy needs to rely on to score goals. I really wish Antonio Di Natale was in this squad because he is still playing at a high level that would make him and Balotelli in the same field be deadly and would cause some great goals to occur. Even though Natale isn’t on the team, Mario Balotelli can more than just take his place on the team, he can be the reason that Italy moves on. In the Confederations Cup he scored two key goals that helped Italy win 2 games and then got injured before the semi-finals. He can score in big matches at big moments so his experience here is key to the big games against Uruguay and England. I expect Balotelli to score another 2 crucial goals when they need it the most and lead Italy to advance from the group stage.
Thanks for reading! Leave a comment if I missed anything or if you have a differing opinion on how this group will go down or for just anything you want! Next time we go onto Group E!