World Cup Preview: Group D
While not officially the "Group of Death," Group D doesn't exactly seem like a very easy group to make it out of into the knockout phase. This comes with not one, not two, but three former world champions-- plus a pretty dangerous Costa Rica. This might just end up being the hardest group to break down.
Let's get to it:
Costa Rica- Equipped with Joel Campbell and Brian Ruiz, Los Ticos made a lot noise in CONCACAF qualifying and were indeed a very difficult matchup. They may not win this group-- or advance out of it for that matter-- but they will make sure that none of the former champs has an easy matchup against them. They will give each opponent a run for their money and might even throw in an upset for good measure.
England- Other than winning the whole thing in 1960 at home, the English side has historically underachieved in World Cup play. However, the team of Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, and Jack Wilshere went through qualifying without suffering a single loss. Rooney, like England, has had a tendency of disappearing at key moments in the World Cup but could be ready to finally step up and lead his team to the promised land. The question will be if they can get by the likes of Italy and Uruguay.
Italy- The Azzuri come into this World Cup with a lot of firepower and among the favorites to contend for the title. With Claudio Marchisio, Giuseppe Rossi, and the always volatile Mario Balotelli, the Italians come into the tournament riding a high off their surprising run to the Euro Cup final. The key to another successful run for Italy will be if Balotelli can keep his cool and focus on the job at hand-- score a lot of goals and lead the team to the final.
Uruguay- The came in third place in 2010 and won the 2012 Copa America, but this may not be their best work. The team led by Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, and Diego Forlan seems poised to make an even better run for the World Cup title-- and their chances seem great in Brazil. Whoever wins this group will have the better chance to make it all the way through, but even the runner-up can't be counted out.
Best match- Italy vs Uruguay; they played a classic in the Confederations Cup third place match that Italy won in a penalty kick shootout-- after playing more than two hours to 2-2- tie. Could decide the winner of the group, and might even send the loser home.
Predicted Order of Finish:
1. Uruguay 5 pts
2. Italy 5 pts
3. England 3 pts
4. Costa Rica 1 pt