Soccer

2014 FIFA World Cup Preview – Group D

Group D in the 2014 FIFA World Cup has 2 footballing powers, one emerging team oozing with talent and Costa Rica that has the capability of springing upsets. England, Italy and Uruguay will definitely fight for the two qualifying spots. This group might have the most storylines, backstories and melodramas in this year’s World Cup.

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool and England shows his support for the FIFA-backed initiative for ending racism.

UPDATE: Raheem Sterling of Liverpool may now start against Italy because of an injury Danny Welbeck picked up during training Tuesday.

Jack Wilshere of Arsenal and England is one of the young players coach Roy Hodgson will be counting on to provide excitement at Manaus on Saturday.

Mother England is the creator of the beautiful game of football (the same game that’s referred to as soccer). Mother England last won the World Cup in 1966 at Wembley. Mother England has experienced more tragedy in international competition than a Greek drama. I playfully refer to England as Mother because you don’t want to see mama suffer! You want to see her succeed! That’s why I believe this is England’s best chance to do well in a mighty long time! Coach Roy Hodgson has blended youth and experience (the latter failing England on many occasions) to create a pot of potentially mouth-watering and scintellating play. Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney will be under the most scruntiny due to coming up missing in the last World Cup. K eep your eyes on Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, captain Steven Gerrard & Rickie Lambert of Liverpool; Adam Lallana of Southampton and Danny Welbeck of Manchester United will also provide great spirit due to the former playing extremely well in qualifications and the latter providing timely goals in Euro 2012.

Mario Balotelli of AC Milan and Italy

Italy is known for defensive play. Italy is known for playing well when World Cups are played in Europe; last time I checked this World Cup is played in Brazil. Italy is also known for making deep runs in tournaments they aren’t expected to do well in. With this year’s incarnation, they’ve got a brilliant midfield anchored by Andrea Pirlo of Juventus. Watch for Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verrati, Claudio Marchisio, Daniele De Rossi and of course the mercurial, uber-talented and sometimes petulent Mario Balotelli. He has the ability to turn games on its head positively and negatively. He’s an out-and-out striker who can score from anywhere, can beat anyone on the ball and can hold the ball up for the aforementioned marauding midfielders the Azzuri possess.

Uruguay is the most enthralling side in Group D. They’re 7th in FIFA’s World Rankings, they’ve got impressive attacking options in Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani and Gastón Ramirez sitting behind the two world-class strikers. Their downfall is in their defending. But coach Óscar Tabárez will play a 4-4-2 which will allow Suárez and Cavani to wreck defenses.

Lastly, Costa Rica is the weakest side in Group D because they’ve lost their leader Álvaro Saborío after breaking his foot. But Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz and Celso Borges will provide spirit going forward. Keylor Navas may be the best keeper you’ve never heard of! He had a huge season for Levante, making key saves in the big matches in La Liga.

I believe England and Uruguay will advance from Group D. Italy will finish in 3rd on difference and Costa Rica will finish fourth. The sexiest match in the group is England vs. Italy in Manaus on June 14th. England must win this match if they have any aspirations on advancing and after training in Miami ahead of the World Cup finals, I believe they’ll pull it off!

DATE TIME (EDT) MATCH
JUN. 14 3:00 PM URUGUAY VS. COSTA RICA
JUN. 14 6:00 PM ENGLAND VS. ITALY
JUN. 19 3:00 PM URUGUAY VS. ENGLAND
JUN. 20 12:00 PM ITALY VS. COSTA RICA
JUN. 24 12:00 PM ITALY VS. URUGUAY
JUN. 24 12:00 PM COSTA RICA VS. ENGLAND

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