Expectations: part four
Here is my fourth part:
Group D: Uruguay
Strengths: Uruguay played a strong 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup where the team finished in third position and scored a total of thirteen regular plus three penalty goals. The team seems to be on form since this tournamenet and has only lost once in ten games since then.
Weak points: Uruguay played a rather weak qualification where the team finished in fifth position and had to go to the play-offs where they won against Jordan. The team's star player and forward Luis Suarez (Liverpool F.C.) is currently injured and the last World Cup's star players such as forward Diego Forlan (Cerezo Osaka), midfielder Diego Perez (Bologna F.C. 1909) or captain and defender Diego Lugano (West Bromwich Albion F.C.) are out of form and have become rather old.
Expectaions: Uruguay won't make it to the round of 16 this year.
Uruguayan squad from March 5, 2014 against Austria (copyright: AFP)
Group D: Costa Rica
Strengths: Costa Rica has finished second in the CONCACAF qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, leaving the national teams from Honduras and Mexico behind.
Weak points: Historically, Costa Rica qualified for four World Cups only where the team lost six games, achieved one draw and could win three matches. Costa Rica has only won one out of its last six friendly games and conceeded eleven goals in these matches. The current squad has almost no international experience as nine players are still playing in the Costa Rican Primera Division. The team's most experienced player Alvaro Saborio who has played 93 games since 2002 and scored 32 goals is currently injured.
Expectations: Costa Rica is one of the weakest teams of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and will finish last in its group.
Costa Rica' squad on March 5, 2014 against Paraguay (copyright: AFP / Getty Images)
Group D: England
Strengths: The players on the English squad now each other very well as all of them are currently playing in the United Kingdom. The squad includes a high number of young talents such as defenders Luke Shaw (Southhampton F.C.) and Phil Jones (Manchester United F.C.), midfielders Raheem Sterling (Liverpool F.C.), Ross Barkley (Everton F.C.) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal F.C.) and strikers Danny Welbeck (Manchester United F.C.) and Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool F.C.). In fact, 12 players are 26 years old or younger. On the other side, the team also features experienced leaders and big names such as captain Steven Gerrard (Liverpool F.C.), vice-captain Frank Lampard (Chelsea F.C.) and Wayne Rooney (Manchester United F.C.). Out of their last sixteen games, the English national team has only lost two matches. England lost no game during the qualification, scored 31 goals and only conceeded 4 goals.
Weak points: Each times England qualifies for a big tournament, expectations and pressure are high but the national team rarely delivers. The only time the team has won a World Cup was back in 1966 in their home country and the team has never won an UEFA European Championship. Especially the team's performances in Latin American countries are rather disappointing and some players seem to have some issues with the climate as well.
Expectations: England will make it to the round of 16 but not further.
England's squad on June 4, 2014 against Ecuador (copyright: Getty Images)
Group D: Italy
Strengths: The Gli Azzurri features a good mixture of experienced players such as Italy's captain and most capped player ever Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus F.C.), midfielder and vice-captain Andrea Pirlo (Juventus F.C.) and defender Andrea Barzagli (Juventus F.C.) as well as many promising talents like defender Mattia De Sciglio (A.C. Milan), midfielder Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain F.C.) and controversial striker Mario Balotelli (A.C. Milan) who had his big breakthrough during the UEFA European Championship 2012. The Italian squad has a promising chemistry as twenty out of twenty-three players have played in Italy's Serie A during the 2013-2014 season and the remaining three players have all played for Paris Saint-Germain F.C. in France.
Weak points: Italy hasn't won any of its last seven games and especially the draws against teams such as Armenia and Luxembourg were rather disappointing. The squad is also missing a real goalgetter right now. The best scorer right now is midfielder Daniele De Rossi (A.S. Roma) who scored 15 goals in 95 caps. Strikers Alessio Cerci (Torino F.C.) and Ciro Immobile (Borussia Dortmund) haven't scored in an official game yet and Lorenzo Insigne ha sonly scored once. It's questionable if these promising talents will have their big breakthrough during the tournament and start scoring many important goals.
Expectations: Italy will at least make it to the round of 16.
Italy's squad on June 4, 2014 against Luxembourg (copyright: Paolo Bruno / Getty Images)