England’s group and what a tough group it is. Here’s how England and their three opponents shape up.
As always with England my heart, and I’m sure every other full blooded Englishman of the nation, will say that England will win the World Cup in 2014 but the likelihood of that happening is quite low.
England were dealt with a very tough draw, having to play Italy in the Amazon in the first match is a daunting and humid prospect to say the least but Hodgson is a clever manager and will make sure England have a team that will at least avoid defeat. If England does avoid defeat against Italy, the young players such as Barkley, Sterling, Wilshere and Sturridge should be able to relax and play their natural game against, still tough but easier, opponents from Uruguay and the group minnows Costa Rica in the final group game.
But for England to progress, players like Gerrard, Rooney, the defenders in the shape of Cahill and Jagielka need to have excellent tournaments.
Draws against Italy and Uruguay are the minimum expectation to give England a chance of qualifying with a win against Costa Rica in the final group game.
Winners in 2006 but spectacular failures in 2010, the Azzuri will want to put on a much better show in Brazil.
They play a 4-3-1-2 formation, which allows Pirlo and De Rossi to dictate the matches and keep possession, which gives Balotelli a free role up front to cause havoc. They showed in Euro 2012, where they finished second, and in the Confederations Cup, finishing third, that they have quality in abundance and will be expected to finish top of this group.
Again, avoiding defeat in the opening game is a must but should they do that, then the Italians will be a tough team to stop.
The surprise package of 2010 are still good enough to challenge the big boys but are one third down on the frightening front three of Suarez, Cavani and Forlan.
Forlan is too old to command a starting place in the team but will be dangerous from the bench but if Uruguay is to pull up trees in Brazil, they almost totally rely on Suarez and Cavani.
The midfielder has no stand out names in and the defence is compact and strong, but the only recognisable name to most football fans will be Athletico Madrid’s Diego Godin.
They play the classic 4-4-2 and will be a tough team to play in this group but both England and Italy should just have the edge on the Uruguayans, meaning they’ll be unable to repeat the heroics of 2010 and 1950, where they beat Brazil in the Maracana to claim the football’s biggest prize.
A World Cup regular due to their geographic location and normally, one of the quickest to be going home and this year should be no different.
Drawn in the Group of Death, anything other than three defeats would be a major shock and fatal to Italy, England or Uruguay.
They do have the likes of Bryan Ruiz in their side so they have quality in the team but it’s very unlikely that Costa Rica will do anything particularly memorable at this World Cup.
They’ll give it go and who knows, they may pull off an almighty shock, but hopefully not against England.
Uruguay vs Costa Rica, 14th June, 8pm, ITV
England vs Italy, 14th June, 11pm. BBC
Uruguay vs England, 19th June, 8pm, ITV
Italy vs Costa Rica, 20th June, 5pm, BBC
Costa Rica vs England, 24th June, 5pm, ITV
Italy vs Uruguay, 24th June, 5pm, ITVTweet