SBI World Cup Preview: Group D

LuisSuarezUruguay1-Japan2013Friendly (Getty)

By RYAN TOLMICH

Few things in soccer get fans talking like a viscously constructed group of death. While Group H is sure to be no cakewalk, few teams would be clamoring for a place in the Group D minefield that features three of the world’s top top 10 teams.

The initial favorite to escape the mess that is Group D is Uruguay, who boast one of the tournament’s more fearsome duos in the form of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Suarez asserted himself as perhaps the world’s best striker this past season by running away with the Premier League’s Golden Boot with a 31 goal campaign. Meanwhile, his compatriot and strike-partner Cavani netted 25 goals of his own in a title-winning campaign with Paris Saint-Germain.

Joining Uruguay are perennial powerhouses England and Italy, each of whom have a legitimate chance of making a run if they survive the Group D gauntlet. Italy boast a squad of typical Italian quality behind ageless playmaker Andrea Pirlo and the always-entertaining Mario Balotelli, while England’s next generation will be given the chance to shine alongside captain Steven Gerrard and superstar Wayne Rooney.

Finally, there are Costa Rica, the group’s forgotten member, who head to Brazil with a chance to provide a surprise. Matchups against Costa Rica will be looked upon as a guaranteed three points, but should Los Ticos pick up a result, the entire group can be turned on its head.

Here’s a closer look at Group D:

WORLD CUP GROUP D

SCHEDULE

6/14 – Uruguay vs. Costa Rica, England vs. Italy; 6/19 – Uruguay vs. England; 6/20 – Italy vs. Costa Rica; 6/24 – Italy vs. Uruguay; 6/24 – Costa Rica vs. England.

TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH

Uruguay: Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Diego Godin, Diego Forlan

England: Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling

Italy: Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo, Giorgio Chiellini, Gianluigi Buffon

Costa Rica: Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Celso Borges, Giancarlo Gonzalez

YOUNG PLAYERS TO WATCH

Uruguay: Gaston Ramirez

England: Ross Barkley

Italy: Lorenzo Insigne

Costa Rica: Joel Campbell

SBI’s PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Uruguay. The tandem of Suarez/Cavani will be too much for the opposition.

2. Italy. Plenty of big game experience with Pirlo in midfield and Balotelli always shows up when the lights are brightest.

3. England. This group will prove to be too much to handle for a fairly below-average, yet promising English squad. Maybe in 2018.

4. Costa Rica. No offense to Los Ticos, but good luck.

South American teams will always have a slight advantage playing on their home continent, and group D will prove no different. Uruguay’s strike force of Suarez, Forlan, and Cavani will prove to be a handful for everyone that gets in their path. After Uruguay, it becomes a battle for second place, with the June 14 Italy vs. England match-up as the team’s first and most important contest. Whoever gets a result in that contest will be heavily favored to escape to the knockout rounds with Italy’s experience giving them a slight edge over their European counterparts.

How do you see Group D shaking out? Which of the powerhouses will get the short end of the stick? Can Costa Rica nab a point against all odds?

Share your thoughts below.

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12 Responses to SBI World Cup Preview: Group D

  1. CSD says:

    I think the Ticos may have gotten a harder draw than the US.

    • Bradley's Missing Mop says:

      I agree. I am also tired of hearing about our “group of death” when I think this group and the Spain/Neth/Chile are worse draws.

      • Dan says:

        disagree, Costa Rica is written off completely where USA actually has a chance.

      • Del Griffin says:

        Its the group of death because we are in it. There are no easy teams in our group. Costa rica is an easy team.

      • bb says:

        They are worse draws for Costa Rica, yes. But a true blue group of death is when all four teams ‘should’ be in the round of 16. So while ours technically isn’t a group of death, because Ghana isn’t ranked in the top 16, This group is still closer than any other to having 4 teams that can make it to the knockout rounds.

      • BrianK says:

        Sorry BMM,…but I have to respectfully disagree. The draw process was intended to get geographical representation in the groups from the designated pots. So in the group G it came down to:

        1) A seeded team from Europe
        2) A team from CONCACAF
        3) A team from Africa
        4) A second team from Portugal

        So,..
        1) Besides Spain,…on paper at least, Germany is the most talented seeded European team.
        2) Sorry to sound like a homer,…but the USA is the best team from CONCACAF.
        3 ) Ghana is the best African team.
        4) Portugal, while not a European powerhouse,…has arguably the best player in the world with a solid supporting cast.

        This the hardest group to handicap because any of the teams could finish top-two. In Group B, Australia has aboslutely no chance of advancing. At best they could get a point if they park the bus. So what you have is three teams competing for two spots. Not four teams.

  2. Zack says:

    Calling England a powerhouse is a bit of a reach.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      Agreed….Honduras just tied England, but Costa Rica will be completely out matched….no.

  3. smartestonthepitch says:

    England is due something good. They have the players, I think their attitude will be good this time and they will be efficient and productive. I predict they win the group.