World Cup Group D Preview – by Matthew Williams

May 28, 2014 11:57 am

World Cup Group D Preview

Group D is a tough one to call, with Italy, England, Uruguay and Costa Rica. You would expect 2 of the big 3 in the group to qualify, with the games against Costa Rica pretty much guaranteeing 3 points for each of them. If you look at their form through the qualifiers you would have to say that Italy and England are the favourites to make it out of the group, but Uruguay, with so much attacking talent, cannot be written off, so I expect the games between Italy, England and Uruguay to be very tense affairs with games likely to be settled by a moment of inspiration from one of the many talents on display.

My Prediction

1st – England

2nd – Italy

3rd – Uruguay

4th – Costa Rica

Italy

Four time World Cup winners Italy are favourites for this group and it’s easy to see why. Mean at the back, they give very little away, and with Pirlo (a snip at 6.6) pulling the strings from deep they will make formidable opposition for most teams. Traditionally an excellent tournament team, Italy last won the World Cup in 2006, however their defense didn’t exactly go according to plan when they failed to win a single game at the 2010 competition, going out at the group stage. They picked themselves up after that and came close to winning Euro 2012, only to be beaten in the final by a Spain team who have dominated world football for the past 3 major tournaments.

Qualifying

Italy qualified without loss from UEFA Group B, winning 6 and drawing 4, but the level of opposition was of an inferior standard to what they will face in Group D. Having said that, Denmark and Czech Republic are, on their day, formidable opponents for most teams but Italy did just enough, winning at home and drawing away with both teams. Top scorer through qualifying was Balotelli with 5 goals, and could be worth a gamble at 9.0. I say gamble, due to his unpredictable nature, and that unpredictability could end up with you cleaning up or costing you badly, its your choice.

Possible line up (4-4-2)

GK – Gianluigi Buffon 6.2

RB – Ignazio Abate 5.8

CB – Andrea Barzagli 5.9

CB – Georgio Chiellini 6.2

LB – Mattia Di Sciglio5.7

MF – Andrea Pirlo 6.6

MF – Daniele De Rossi 6.2

MF – Claudio Marchisio 5.9

MF– Riccardo Montolivio 5.8

ST – Mario Balotelli 9.0

ST – Giuseppe Rossi 8.8

England

England’s only World Cup win came back in 1966, with a 4-2 extra time victory over West Germany, courtesy of a Geoff Hurst hat trick. Since then they have been largely disappointing, reaching the semi finals on just one occasion, Italia 90. The so called ‘golden generation’ of recent years failed to live up to the weight of expectation placed upon them, and, after many years of expecting glory, it seems the pressure has now been lifted with the fans and the press alike. Personally, I would like to see a good blend of youth and experience, as I feel that the likes of Barkley, with his powerful runs and Sterling, with his pace and ability to beat a man could have most defenses on the back foot.

Qualifying

England, like Italy, qualified without loss for the World Cup, winning 6 and drawing 4, but with a much superior goal difference. This was helped by the 13 goals they put past lowly San Marino over 2 games, but only conceding 4 goals in 10 games points to very organised back line. Cahill and Jagielka are now the first choice pairing at the heart of the English defense, having played the last 4 qualifiers together and conceding just 1 goal. Rooney was England’s main goal threat through qualifying, finishing with 7 goals. Beware though, he has never scored in the World Cup finals, a record which he surely must break this time around.

Possible line-up (4-4-2)

GK – Joe Hart 5.8

RB – Glen Johnson 5.7

CB – Phil Jagielka 5.7

CB – Gary Cahill 5.8

LB – Leighton Baines 5.9

MF – Steven Gerrard 6.4

MF – Adam Lallana 5.6

MF – Jordan Henderson 5.5

MF – Raheem Sterling 5.6

ST – Wayne Rooney 9.7

ST – Daniel Sturridge 9.6

Uruguay

Uruguay’s first World Cup win came on home soil at the first ever FIFA World Cup in 1930, beating Argentina 4-2 in the final. They then didn’t enter a World Cup again until 1950, which was in Brazil, this years host nation, which they won, but not in the traditional way as the 1950 World Cup didn’t have a knock out stage. Only 13 teams competed at the Finals, and instead of the traditional groups and knock out format, they went with groups and then a final group in which went the 4 group winners, who then played each other once with the winner being the team with the most points. In my opinion, Uruguay were lucky to win that year, with Brazil letting themselves down in their final game against Uruguay, losing 2-1, after smashing Sweden and Spain 7-1 and 6-1 respectively.

Qualifying

Uruguay qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup through the play offs, beating Jordan 5-0 over 2 legs, after finishing 5th in the CONMEBOL qualifying group. An excellent attacking team, they scored 25 goals through qualifying, Suarez netting 11 times to finish top scorer. The defense is another matter entirely. They conceded 25 goals in their group, keeping just 3 clean sheets, and any team playing against them has to fancy their chances against such a suspect back line.

Possible line-up

GK – Muslera 5.6

RB – Pereira 5.7

CB – Lugano 5.4

CB – Godin 5.6

LB – Caceres 5.7

MF – Stuani 6.9

MF – Lodeiro 6.2

MF – Arevalo Rios 5.4

MF – Rodriguez 6.2

ST – Suarez 10.4

St – Cavani 10.0

Costa Rica

Costs Rica’s best showing at a World Cup Finals came in the 1990 tournament, where they made the round of 16 after finishing runners up to Brazil in group C after beating Scotland and Sweden 1-0 and 2-1 respectively. They were then drawn against Czechoslovakia who sent them home after a convincing 4-1 victory. Since then they have only qualified for the finals twice in 2002 and 2006 where they failed to get past the group stages on both occasions.

Qualifying

Costa Rica finished 2nd to the USA in the CONCACAF qualifiers, winning 5, drawing 3 and losing 2 of their 10 games, scoring 13 goals and conceding 7 along the way. Top scorer through qualifying was Alvaro Saborio with 8 goals so keep an eye out for him, could prove a bargain at 7.4.

Possible line-up (4-5-1/4-3-3)

GK – Navas 4.9

RB – Gamboa 4.5

CB – Umana 4.9

CB – Gonzalez 4.5

LB – Miller 4.8

MF – Borges 5.5

MF – Tejeda 5.0

MF – Cubero 5.4

MF – Campbell 6.3

MF – Ruiz 6.9

ST – Saborio 7.4

I’ve really enjoyed writing this and I hope some of you enjoy reading it.

Thanks

Matthew Williams

This post was written by FiT Admin

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