Group D: Breaking Down Group D at the World Cup

Group D is likely to be the stage of disappointment for one World Cup heavyweight. This Group is contested by 3 star teams, along with an underrated prospect. The 4 teams that contest the group are Uruguay, Costa Rica, England and Italy. 

From Daily Star

From Daily Star

Special Note:

Luis Suarez has undergone knee surgery and may be out for the entire Group Stages. We will be monitoring the situation, and if he doesn’t make it, he will be replaced by Diego Forlan.



Uruguay was the dark horse in the last World Cup, and they were fantastic, winning in a tough group that was contested by hosts South Africa and contenders Mexico and France. They then outscored South Korea in a goal fest and defeated African heroes’ Ghana in a very controversial match. Placing 4th in the World Cup, they will be hoping to finish 3 spots higher this time around. Last time the World Cup was played in Brazil, in 1950,  Uruguay beat the Brazilians in a shocking final that haunts the Brazilians 64 years later. Star strikers such as Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez will hope to recreate this result for Uruguay, along with some help from world-class Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin. The first step to being World Cup Champions may be the hardest for Uruguay.

From Express

Cavani, From Express

Costa Rica are arguably the most underrated side in the tournament, and they have executed wins against Klinsmann’s USA thanks to a perfect defensive setup. In the final round of the qualification process, they only conceded 7 goals in 10 games, as stated on Wikipedia and FIFA’s websites, and they could pull off 2 shutouts and a lucky win to advance. Along with their disciplined defence, they also have Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell to help provide a threat in attacking areas.

Ruiz, From Daily Mail

Ruiz, From Daily Mail

England fans have expected more than what their country is capable of for years, and it has ended in disappointment each and every time. This year, they have been drawn into a group where they aren’t favourites to even advance, and this has put England fans in despair. Because of this, people have overlooked the English squad that has everything needed to pull the stops if manager Roy Hodgson can play it correctly. They have stars and veterans such as Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. Players who are some of the best in the World at their position are unknown outside England, such as  Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Leighton Baines. The youngsters in England are the icing on the cake. Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere will all play their part as England tries to recreate the glory they once tasted in 1966.

Gerrard, From Mirror

Gerrard, From Mirror

Italy has been, for a long time, the country with the best overall centre-midfielders and defenders. Looking at Italy’s squad, they are often misjudged as one that is ageing, because of stars such as Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Antonio Cassano, who are still fantastic players, debatably just as good as before. In reality, they have a tank full of steam and young stars such as Mattia de Sciglio, Mario Balotelli, Marco Veratti, Ciro Immobile, Mario Balotelli and more. Whether they can have the same glory as in 2006 or not is a question, but they ceratinly have the best squad in the group by a distance.

Balotelli, From Telegraph

Balotelli, From Telegraph

Strengths by Position:

There are 3 fantastic Goalkeepers in the group. Gianluigi Buffon is still a fantastic shot-stopper, even in his mid to late 30s, and Joe Hart made a fantastic recovery after a bad stretch of form for Manchester City. Fernando Muslera deserves a shout as well, even though he isn’t one of the best in the world. Keylor Navas also warrants a mention, after a stellar season for Levante.

1. Gianluigi Buffon, Italy

2. Joe Hart, England

3. Keylor Navas, Costa Rica

4. Fernando Mulsera, Uruguay

Buffon, From Zimbio

Buffon, From Zimbio

Leighton Baines is an excellent left-back in the Fullback position, and with Kyle Walker at his side, England has a formidable fullback duo. Mattia de Sciglio deserves a shout for Italy, while Ignazio Abate has speed that is not matched by any player in the Group, especially because Theo Walcott is injured for England.

1. Leighton Baines, England

2. Mattia de Sciglio, Italy

3. Ignazio Abate, Italy

4. Kyle Walker, England

Baines, From The Guardian

Baines, From The Guardian

Centre Backs are a fundamental part of the core in most starting 11s today. Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli form one of the best centre back duos in the world, and Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka are a very underrated duo, and so are Diego Godin and Martin Caceres.

1. Diego Godin, Uruguay

2. Andrea Barzagli, Italy

3. Gary Cahill, England

4. Giorgio Chiellini, Italy

5. Phil Jagielka, England

6. Martin Caceres, Uruguay

Godin, From Zimbio

Godin, From Zimbio

Anchor-Defensive Midfielders keep the team connected. Often without them, teams split in 2. Andrea Pirlo is still fantastic, and he is the best in the world at splitting other teams in half. Steven Gerrard has coped with loss of pace (because of age) by transforming into this role, in a fantastic switch for him.

1. Andrea Pirlo, Italy

2. Steven Gerrard, England

Pirlo, From Telegraph

Pirlo, From Telegraph

Box-to-Box Central Midfielders are engines of the team, and are the only players who contribute equally to both attack and defence. Daniele De Rossi and Claudio Marchisio are likely to start from Italy’s pool of fantastic players in this area, and regardless of whether Jack Wilshere or Jordan Henderson starts for England, they have a very formidable option.

1. Claudio Marchisio, Italy

2. Daniele De Rossi, Italy

3. Jack Wilshere/Jordan Henderson, England

Marchisio, From Zimbio

Marchisio, From Zimbio

Attacking Midfielders and Number 10s are responsible for making plays and being the main providers in attack. Italy does not play any of these, whereas Wayne Rooney and Adam Lallana will be great in the position for England. Gaston Ramirez also deserves a mention, despite not being in great form since his transfer to Southampton.

1. Wayne Rooney, England

2. Adam Lallana, England

3. Gaston Ramirez, Uruguay

Rooney, From The Guardian

Rooney, From The Guardian

Wingers/Wide Forwards/Inverted Wingers are the attacking threats on the wing. Teaming up with the fullbacks, the best wingers are great at crossing, shooting and have immense pace. Raheem Sterling is great at the young age of 19, and he is the only major winger in the group. Bryan Ruiz is the other winger that could be on the headlines in the Group.

1. Raheem Sterling, England

2. Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica

Sterling, From Daily Star

Sterling, From Daily Star

Strikers hit all the headlines for the goals they score. Most of them have only that job. Luis Suarez plays more as a false nine, but they still have a similar job. Suarez is the 2nd best player in the world behind Cristiano Ronaldo at the moment. Edinson Cavani is also one of the best players in the world, and Daniel Sturridge was the 2nd highest scorer in the EPL behind Liverpool teammate and group rival Luis Suarez. Mario Balotelli is extremely temperamental and inconsistent, but on his day (1 in 4) he is the best player on the pitch.

1.  Luis Suarez, Uruguay

2. Edinson Cavani, Uruguay

3. Daniel Sturridge, England

4. Mario Balotelli, Italy

Suarez, From Wikipedia

Suarez, From Wikipedia

Matchups and Predictions:

You can expect to see 6 fantastic fixtures in Group D. Take a look at the match previews and predictions for each fixture.

Uruguay vs Costa Rica:

From Article WN

From Article WN

Uruguay need to go into this match expecting that Italy and England will take 3 points from Costa Rica. Costa Rica need to enter the match believing this is their only chance to get points in the group.

Tactical Battles:

Uruguay mismatch Costa Rica and win across the pitch here. Although Costa Rica’s defence is quite good, it doesn’t weigh up to the Uruguayan attack.

Prediction: Uruguay 2-0 Costa Rica; Goals, Cavani, Suarez; MOTM Suarez

In a fantastic match for Uruguay, they will convince many that they will win the Group.

England vs Italy:

From Jolly Gardeners

From Jolly Gardeners

In the entire Group Stages, there probably isn’t a match that will be so affected by the climate. Both teams will be playing in the dry and very hot area of Manaus. Expect England to favour a rugged approach and for Italy to try and hold possession in a tiki taka style.

Tactical Battles:

Italy Defence: The matchups for Italy’s back 5 are almost even. Giorgio Chiellini beats Daniel Sturridge in the centre of the park, and Wayne Rooney beats Andrea Barzagli. Adam Lallana (or James Milner) beats Ignazio Abate, and Mattia de Sciglio is evenly met by Raheem Sterling. Italy should win here, because of the climate and because of Andrea Pirlo at CDM.

England Defence: Matchups are similar here. England win on both wings, with Kyle Walker and Leighton Baines doing very well, and Balotelli and Marchisio will be challenged quite well by Cahill, Jagielka and Gerrard. Expect England to win here by some distance.

Italy destroy England’s midfield, and Italy have a better goalkeeper.

Prediction: England 0-0 Italy; MOTM Pirlo

Pirlo will control the match entirely, but Italy won’t beat the English defence in a match where the entire pitch will be deflated.

Uruguay vs England:

From Ticket Bis

From Ticket Bis

England will only take 1 point from their first match, so they will go for the 3 here. Uruguay will also need the 3 points to try and secure a place in the next round.

Tactical Battles:

Uruguay Defence: Uruguay’s Diego Godin will most likely be challenged to stop Wayne Rooney, in a great tactical battle. Martin Caceres will need to stop Raheem Sterling, which is tough for him, and Maximiliano Pereira will greatly struggle to stop Adam Lallana. Expect this tactical battle to decide the match.

England Defence: Gary Cahill will look to prevent Luis Suarez from doing much, and he will greatly struggle. Phil Jagielka won’t provide a match for Edinson Cavani. Expect Uruguay to destroy here.

England, otherwise, win across the pitch. Expect them to outplay the Uruguayan midfield.

Prediction: Uruguay 3-2 England; Goals, Cavani (2), Godin, Gerrard, Sturridge; MOTM Cavani

A great effort from England won’t trump the mismatch at their defensive end. This will be a score fest, and expect Rooney to underwhelm, as well as Suarez. You can also expect Cavani to step up here.

Costa Rica vs Italy:

From TItan Bet

From TItan Bet

Costa Rica will need to draw this match to stay in it, whereas after Uruguay beat England, an Italy win will eliminate Costa Rica, along with ensuring that Italy will only need a point to advance.

Tactical Battles:

Italy win across the pitch here. Expect a promising performance to get them close to advancing to the next round.

Prediction: Italy 2-0 Costa Rica; Goals, Balotelli, Pirlo; MOTM Balotelli

Italy will almost ensure they are in the next round with Uruguay, in a convincing match. Pirlo will score a stunning free kick.

England vs Costa Rica:

From Titan Bet

From Titan Bet

England need this win, and will play everything. Can Costa Rica end it early? Let`s find out.

England will win across the pitch, and Costa Rica won’t win a tactical battle in the entire group.

Prediction: England 2-0 Costa Rica; Goals, Rooney (2); MOTM Rooney

Rooney will be the hero England have always wanted him to be and he will score his 1st World Cup goal. But will Rooney’s heroics kick in too late?

Italy vs Uruguay:

From Ticket Bis

From Ticket Bis

Italy will need 1 point to secure their place in the next round. Other than that, this is a fight for 1st, as Uruguay`s style doesn’t counter Colombia’s well, in the hypothetical Round of 16 fixture.

Tactical Battles:

Italy Defence: Italy and Uruguay will have a face-off in their strongest areas. Uruguay`s attackers beat Italy`s centre-backs, but just barely. A combination of Chiellini, Barzagli and Pirlo may just be enough to beat the Uruguayans. This tactical battle will decide the match.

Other than that, Italy win across the pitch. Expect a game reminiscent of the 3rd place match in the Confederations Cup.

Prediction: Italy 1-1 Uruguay; Goals, Marchisio, Suarez; MOTM Chiellini

A fantastic performance from the Italy defence will ensure they are in the next round.

Final Prediction Table:

Uruguay, 7pts, +3 GD

Italy, 5pts, +2 GD

England, 4pts, +1 GD

Costa Rica, 0pts, -6 GD

Uruguay will advance in 1st and help Italy win their battle with England for 2nd. No one will stop the Uruguayan attack.

Match Schedule for Group D (Eastern Time):

Uruguay vs Costa Rica: June 14, 3pm

England vs Italy: June 14, 6pm

Uruguay vs England: June 19, 3pm

Italy vs Costa Rica: June 20, 12pm

Costa Rica vs England: June 24, 12pm

Italy vs Uruguay: June 24, 12pm

Will Uruguay and Italy advance? We never know when it comes to the World Cup. Find out by watching this exciting group at the World Cup and continuously tuning into my reports.





  1. hey there! so just a couple questions about certain facts and opinions.

    first off, lets start with England. rooney is on the bench and the team is entirely fcused on their young guns. Yes, reputable to play for an international team, but not experienced enough internationally yet. Though Wayne will have more than one substitution moment to shine, I think this definitely will shake up the group and the scores. Against their first game and Italian counterpart, the experience of the Italian defence will walk all over them. and agreeing with the comments on pirlo, and balotelli, I cant see an offence presence in the English squad. Also, if you believe there is still an overpowering offence in the English squad over the Italians, why do the predictions of Italy and England both end 2-0 beating Costa Rica.

    Next is the “underrated team’. I put this in quotations simply because you throw the term around as if they deserve more credit. In my opinion, they are valued exactly how they should be: at the bait in the pack of wolves. they will be used as a goal diference decider for 2nd and 3rd spot in the group. Though they have their few shining stars, it is why they are rated the way they are and the reason they are even in the world cup. The term underrated would suggest that they actually have more value as a team than they are given credit for instead of the team we both know they will be this cup. I also think that uragauay and England offensive presence will be a lot stronger in these games than your score predictions, and where it will really make the goal difference for group standing when and if it comes down to that. Italy is defensive and only plays to score more than their opponent. though you predicted 2, it might be a 1-0 victory or Italy will place third because of goal difference from the other sluggers in the group

    next on to Italy, la squadra will face off England first. this will most likely be the deciding game for 2nd in the group, Italy will have to take the win from this one, and will be easier with the presence of their stronger looking offence and englands lack of experience and power. Pirlo, though is a game changer, cannot carry the team each and every game. England will be getting more fouls because of their squad choice, and pirlo is undoubtedly one of the greatest free kick takers of the generation, and maybe of all time! not to mention equally that of a center midfielder. their match against uruaguay will be interesting as well, they will be against not only almost the same team that beat them in groups 4 years prior, but it will also be the final game of the group and Italy needs to come up big in goal difference. im afraid that for Italy, a win of one or even 2 might not be enough to advance them in the group if things against their prior oppenents go south.

    as for uraguay, I simply expect them to have a repeat performance of last world cup. they are definitely strong enough to top the group, have the scoring power, and the legs and endurance to do it, however not much passed that.

    thanks for the rant space. and this was a mix of my opinions, and just constructive criticism on some facts and wording used here

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Matt,

      First off, thank you for reading the articles, it seems as if they entertained you.

      I definitely see where you are coming from in all the arguments, you definitely know a lot about the Italian team, far more than I do at least. The place where our opinions differ is on the England squad.

      First of all, Rooney will definitely start. Rooney is still a “key cog” in the system regardless of the English youngsters. The first match differs the tactics a lot. England thrives on a physical game, and this style will be hampered by the terrible climate of Manaus. Italy will walk all over them. A key here is the presence of Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka. Cahill is one of the most underrated players on the planet as he is a solid player. I noted that Pirlo would dominate the match, and yes, he is amazing, but there is another reference to the Manaus system, and that is that Pirlo is a technical player. Ultimately, I can’t see either scoring, as Italy won’t have their finsihing on.

      In terms of the Costa Rica fixtures, Costa Rica have a very disciplined defensive system. Drawing into Group E or F, they would be contending for a next round spot, and they are more tactically sound than the US. England’s style of wear and tear and cross the ball won’t be very useful against a team like this, whereas the Italians play a technical, slow, passing style. Italy’s midfield will not allow Costa Rica to attack at all. England, on the other hand, will be hitting shots and crosses like there is no tomorrow, and Costa Rica will cope against this. England will still score, as they will eventually break the Costa Ricans down, but Italy’s time in attack will make up for it.

      Costa Rica’s results are more than most would give them. In fact, most say they are one of the worst sides in the tournament, but give me Australia or Honduras and Uruguay and Argentina would be winning by at least 5 if they even played their first teams. If any of these teams go to sleep, they won’t beat Costa Rica. Although I take into consideration that it is CONCACAF, Costa Rica only conceded 7 goals in 10 games in the final round of qualifying, an absolutely stunning record. They fended off Mexico, while across the pond England barely beat Montenegro, a team that is far worse than Mexico.

      You also have to consider team gel, of which Costa Rica have in abundance. When teams gel, they reach their full potential, or closer to it. England haven’t reached there. Costa Rica’s potential is very low compared to other gelled sides such as Italy and Uruguay, but England have the type of squad that could at least reach the semifinal if they gelled correctly.

      In terms of the Italians, Ashley told me you are an Italy fan, and it may soothe your nerves about the Italians if I tell you that England are a complete, utter mess. In fact, I’m not too sure England would qualify through Group C, as Colombia, Japan and Ivory Coast all seem to be stronger.

      People say Pirlo has gotten worse with age but in my opinion that is utter nonsense. Pirlo is an anchor while being a box-to-box midfielder. He breaks up other midfields by himself, and there is no other ANCHOR on the planet who can do that. He connects the team, while disconnecting the other team, and that is before the opposition get to Marchisio and De Rossi.

      Pirlo’s qualities actually help in a match in the climate of Manaus, where all of the box-to-box players on the pitch will struggle greatly. Pirlo doesn’t move around as much as the archetypal box-to-box players, but he achieves the same purpose. Italy won’t be able to attack through the wings, because England’s fullbacks outmatch them. Because Kyle Walker thrives on pace, Roy Hodgson may opt to start Phil Jones out of position, as he will offer a shutout alternative in a match where, other than Gerrard, England’s players aren’t suited.

      Now Uruguay comes into play. Clearly, Italy and Uruguay are in a tough area. Uruguay win in defence (vs Italy attack) but lose in midfield and are challenged by the defence. It’s tough, but Italy are too solid to be broken by Uruguay. I don’t see either taking a lead for more than 20 minutes.

      I would say that I think Italy and Uruguay are equal. What led me to giving Uruguay the nod was the fixtures. Uruguay and England have similar defence lines, with the latter getting the nod, but that is channeled out by Uruguay’s attacking ability. This match will decide the group in my opinion, because, although I get where the England Italy argument is coming from, I am almost positive that Italy won’t lose a match in the group (unless they pull a 2010) and in a score-fest, ultimately Uruguay win at that, even if Suarez doesn’t play.

      Thanks for your opinion, I always enjoy seeing a different take on the football world. Sorry this is a bit long, but I figure you wanted my insight. Enjoy the World Cup and best of luck with Italy.


Agree? Disagree? Agree to Disagree? Sound off here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s