World Cup guide: Group D

Ben Coley delivers his team-by-team guide to World Cup Group D - and it doesn't make good reading for England fans.

Last Updated: 13/06/14 at 20:11 Post Comment

England will do well to qualify from Group D

England will do well to qualify from Group D

You can find guides to all the other groups as well as all the rest of our previews and features here, including our outright and top goalscorer tips.

The specials markets will be assessed on Wednesday with some England-flavoured bets coming your way on Thursday - the day the tournament gets under way.

So make sure you stay logged on to sportinglife.com for all this and more ahead of sporting event of the year!


URUGUAY


Outright odds (with Sky Bet): 28/1
To win group: 2/1
To qualify: 8/15

Full squad: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco Da Gama), Rodrigo Munoz (Libertad); Diego Lugano (West Brom), Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez (both Atletico Madrid), Martin Caceres (Juventus), Maximiliano Pereira (Benfical), Jorge Fucile (Porto), Sebastian Coates (Nacional); Egidio Arevalo-Rios (Morelia), Walter Gargano (Parma), Diego Perez (Bologna), Alvaro Gonzalez (Lazio), Alvaro Pereira (Sao Pablo), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton), Nicolas Lodeiro (Botafogo); Edinson Cavani (PSG), Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Diego Forlan (Cerezo Osaka), Abel Hernandez (Palermo), Cristian Stuani (Espanyol).

Manager: Oscar Tabarez

World Cup record: Two-time winners (1930, 1950), three-times fourth (1954, 1970, 2010)

How they qualified (most recent first): Comfortable winners of an intercontinental play-off with Jordan having finished just fifth in the South American zone, behind fourth-placed Ecuador on goal difference

v Jordan (home) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Jordan (away) 5-0 (HT 2-0) Pereira 22, Stuani 42, Lodeiro 70, Rodriguez 78, Cavani 90+1
v Argentina (home) 3-2 (HT 2-2) Rodriguez 6, Suarez 34, Cavani 49
v Ecuador (away) 0-1 (HT 0-1)
v Colombia (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Cavani 77 Stuani 80
v Peru (away) 2-1 (1-0) Suarez 43, 67
v Venezuela (away) 1-0 (HT 1-0) Cavani 27
v Chile (away) 0-2 (HT 0-1)
v Paraguay (home) 1-1 (HT 0-0) Suarez 81
v Bolivia (away) 1-4 (HT 0-2) Suarez 80
v Argentina (away) 0-3 (HT 0-1)
v Ecuador (home) 1-1 (HT 0-1) Cavani 66
v Colombia (away) 0-4 (HT 0-1)
v Peru (home) 4-2 (HT 2-1) Suarez 15, Pereira 29, Rodriguez 62, Eguren 90+3
v Venezuela (home) 1-1 (HT 1-0) Forlan 38
v Chile (home) 4-0 (HT 2-0) Suarez 42, 45, 67, 73
v Paraguay (away) 1-1 (HT 0-0) Forlan 68
v Bolivia (home) 4-2 (HT 3-1) Suarez 3, Lugano 25, 71, Cavani 34

Goalscorers: Unsurprisingly, Luis Suarez led the way with 11 goals - four of which came in the 4-0 win against Chile. Edinson Cavani bagged a more-than-respectable six.

Half-time/full-time: There's no particular pattern when it comes to Uruguay's method of victory, although they did win six of the seven games in which they led at the break which marks them down as good front-runners. However, only once did they come from behind to salvage a point.

Clean sheets: Uruguay kept five clean sheets, although two of those came against Jordan.

Win to nil: Uruguay won just three of their group games to nil, plus once against Jordan. By comparison, they won four times despite conceding so both teams to score and Uruguay to win looks a strong angle.

Cards: Here's a team worth keeping an eye on when it comes to playing over on the bookings. Uruguay's 18 qualifying games produced 90 cards at an average of 5 and while skewed by some particularly ill-tempered contests, Uruguay did account for 43 of the bookings and, given their propensity to allow opponents possession, they appear liable to picking up more than their share.

Other competitive internationals (most recent first): Uruguay finished fourth at last summer's Confederations Cup in Brazil, although the only sides they beat in the competition were Nigeria and whipping boys Tahiti. They were beaten by both Spain and Brazil.

v Italy (neutral) 2-2, 2-3 pens (HT 0-1) Cavani 58, 78
v Brazil (away) 1-2 (HT 0-1) Cavani 48
v Tahiti (neutral) 8-0 (HT 4-0) Hernandez 2, 24, 45, 67, Perez 27, Lodeiro 61, Suarez 82, 90
v Nigeria (neutral) 2-1 (HT 1-1) Lugano 18, Forlan 51
v Spain (neutral) 1-2 (HT 0-2) Suarez 88

Build-up (most recent first): Uruguay drew in Austria earlier this year and enjoyed an unconvincing win over Northern Ireland recently. Their final match ahead of the World Cup was a routine 2-0 win over Slovenia in Montevideo.

v Slovenia (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Cavani 37, Stuani 76
v Northern Ireland (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Stuani 62
v Austria (away) 1-1 (HT 0-1) Pereira 66

Team verdict: Uruguay should prove an exceptionally difficult side to beat and represent a real obstacle for both England and Italy to overcome.

This is a solid, experienced squad of players who've been working together for years now and have formed a real spirit, one which helped them get to the semi-finals of the last World Cup.

It's absolutely clear that many of this squad are past their peak and so much depends on the strikers, who are right up there with the best in the tournament.

Herein lies the problem.

The PFA Player of the Year left a Montevideo hospital in a wheelchair having had minor surgery and when those close to him are using language like 'hopeful', you begin to wonder whether he'll be able to recreate the fireworks he's shown for club and country over the last few seasons.

With these doubts lingering, it's hard to take a strong view on Uruguay but one thing is for sure: if they can beat Costa Rica in their opening match they will be very hard to keep out of the knockout stages.

Best bet (with Sky Bet): Edinson Cavani to be Uruguay's top scorer at 7/4 - worth chancing that Suarez misses the first and easiest of Uruguay's group games, in which case this would look a big price in what could be a match.


COSTA RICA


Outright odds (with Sky Bet): 2500/1
To win group: 25/1
To qualify: 10/1

Full squad: Keilor Navas (Levante), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense), Daniel Cambronero (Herediano), Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), Michael Umana (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Club Bruges), Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew), Heiner Mora (Saprissa), Junior Diaz (Mainz 05), Cristian Gamboa (Rosenborg), Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls), Celso Borges (AIK Stockholm), Christian Bolanos (FC Copenhagen), Oscar Esteban Granados (Herediano), Michael Barrantes (Aalesund), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Diego Calvo (Valerenga Oslo), Jose Miguel Cubero (Herediano), Bryan Ruiz (PSV Eindhoven), Joel Campbell (Arsenal/Olympiakos), Randall Brenes (Cartagines), Marco Urena (FC Kuban Krasnodar)

Manager: Jorge Luis Pinto

World Cup record: Last 16 (1990), Group stage (2002, 2006)

How they qualified (most recent first): Second to the USA in CONCACAF's final round, having previously chased home Mexico in a four-team pre-qualification group in which Guyana and El Salvador were outclassed.v Panama (away) 2-2 (HT 1-2) Saborio 39 Ruiz 84
v United States (away) 0-1 (HT 0-1)
v Jamaica (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Umana 22, Calvo 82
v Honduras (home) 1-0 (HT 1-0) Miller 25
v Mexico (away) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Panama (home) 2-0 (HT 0-0) Ruiz 49, Borges 52
v United States (home) 3-1 (HT 2-1) Acosta 3, Borges 10, Campbell 76
v Jamaica (away) 1-1 (HT 0-0) Brenes 74
v Honduras (away) 0-1 (HT 0-0)
v Mexico (home) 2-1 (HT 1-1) Ruiz 24, Saborio 63
v Guyana (home) 7-0 (HT 2-0) Brenes 10, 48, Gamboa 14, Saborio 51p, 77', Bolanos 61, Borges 70
v El Salvador (away) 1-0 (HT 1-0) Cubero 31
v Mexico (away) 0-1 (HT 0-0)
v Mexico (home) 0-2 (HT 0-1)
v Guyana (away) 4-0 (HT 2-0) Saborio 20, 26, 52, Campbell 72
v El Salvador (home) 2-2 (HT 2-1) Saborio 10, Campbell 15

Goalscorers: Focusing on the more competitive final group stage for statistical purposes, Bryan Ruiz led the way with three goals, with both Celso Borges and Alvaro Saborio contributing two each (the latter also bagged five in the previous stage). Six players including Joel Campbell and Johnny Acosta managed one.

Half-time/full-time: Three of Costa Rica's five wins saw them lead at half-time, while only once did they come from behind to secure a draw.

Clean sheets: Costa Rica kept four clean sheets at a ratio of 40%; they came against the four sides that finished beneath them.

Win to nil: Costa Rica managed three wins to nil, each of which came at home. Therefore the majority (three from five) of their wins were without conceding.

Cards: Costa Rica's games produced a total of 33 cards at an average of 3.3 per game, with no red cards but only one game which saw none of any description handed out.

Other competitive internationals (most recent first): On home soil, Costa Rica won Copa Centroamericana in January 2013, beating fellow World Cup qualifiers Honduras in the final. That effort earned them a place in the CONCACAF Gold Cup but in the USA Honduras gained revenge, knocking Los Ticos out at the last-eight stage.

v Honduras (neutral) 0-1 (HT 0-0)
v United States (neutral) 0-1 (HT 0-0)
v Belize (neutral) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Eiley 49
v Cuba (neutral) 3-0 (HT 0-0) Barrantes 52, 77, Arrieta 71
v Honduras (home) 1-0 (HT 1-0) Gonzalez 38
v El Salvador (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Wallace 72
v Guatemala (home) 1-1 (1-0 HT) Arrieta 11
v Nicaragua (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Lagos 7, Borges 86
v Belize (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Arrieta 55

Build-up (most recent first): It's been a struggle for Costa Rica since qualifying, with goals in short supply and four of their six friendlies lost.

v Rep Ireland (neutral) 1-1 (HT 0-1) Borges 64p
v Japan (neutral) 1-3 (HT 1-0) Ruiz 31)
v Paraguay (home) 2-1 (HT 1-0) Campbell 43, Saborio 73
v South Korea (neutral) 0-1 (HT 0-1)
v Chile (away) 0-4 (HT 0-1)
v Australia (away) 0-1 (HT 0-0)

Team verdict: Costa Rica were considered dark horses by some judges before the World Cup draw, and while it's not going to be easy for them, I'm keen not to rule them out.

Clearly, getting out of a group which features England, Uruguay and Italy will be far from easy - it would surpass their 1990 exploits for sure - but this is a side with quality who are hard to beat.

Captain Bryan Ruiz has made all the right noises, describing England and Italy as "two great European sides", and you get the feeling his side will relish their underdog status. They also start with a game against a potentially weakened Uruguay team and we can expect a counter-attacking display which seeks to exploit their pace on the break.

As well as Ruiz, UK fans may also be familiar with Joel Campbell. The Arsenal player has been on loan with Olympiacos and looks to have improved for it, with some suggesting that he'll be part of Arsene Wenger's plans for next season.

Ultimately, the likelihood is that Costa Rica will finish either third or fourth in this group, but my expectation is that they will exploit any slip-ups from three opponents around whom there are concerns of sorts. They certainly shouldn't be embarrassed.

Best bet (with Sky Bet): Italy/Uruguay/Costa Rica group tricast at 18/1 - I'm not convinced Costa Rica are nailed on for bottom spot like their 1/4 odds suggest. I'm keen to get with them at a big price somehow and this looks the best way of doing this from the markets available.


ENGLAND


Outright odds (with Sky Bet): 25/1
To win group: 2/1
To qualify: 1/2

Full squad: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Ben Foster (West Brom), Fraser Forster (Celtic); Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Leighton Baines (Everton), Luke Shaw (Southampton); Steven Gerrard (Liverpool, capt), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Milner (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Ross Barkley (Everton), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal); Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Rickie Lambert (Southampton).

Manager: Roy Hodgson

World Cup record: Winners (1966); semi-finalists (1990) and six-time quarter-finalists (most recently in 2006)

How they qualified (most recent first): Topped Europe's Group H, winning six and drawing the other four of their 10 matches and conceding just four times in the process.

v Moldova (away) 5-0 (HT 3-0) Lampard 4, 29, Defoe 32, Milner 74, Baines 83
v Ukraine (home) 1-1 (HT 0-1) Lampard 87
v San Marino (home) 5-0 (HT 2-0) Rooney 35, 70, Welbeck 37, 72, Oxlade-Chamberlain 77
v Poland (away) 1-1 (HT 1-0) Rooney 31
v San Marino (away) 8-0 (HT 5-0) Della Valle (OG) 12, Oxlade-Chamberlain 29, Defoe 34, 77, Young 39, Lampard 42, Rooney 54, Sturridge 70
v Montenegro (away) 1-1 (HT 1-0) Rooney 6
v Moldova (home) 4-0 (HT 3-0) Gerrard 12, Lambert 26, Welbeck 45+1, 50
v Ukraine (away) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Montenegro (home) 4-1 (HT 0-0) Rooney 48, Boskovic (OG) 62, Townsend 78, Sturridge 90+3
v Poland (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Rooney 41, Gerrard 88

Goalscorers: Wayne Rooney scored seven goals in qualifying, three more than any other player in the group. Penalties helped Frank Lampard register four, the same number as Danny Welbeck.

Half-time/full-time: England led at half-time in five of their six wins, the only exception being a 4-1 victory over Montenegro in which all five goals came after the break. Twice they surrendered a half-time lead to draw, but the only time they went in behind at the break they scored late to salvage a point.

Clean sheets: England kept six clean sheets through their 10 games at a ratio of 60%. Never did they concede more than once in a game.

Win to nil: Five of England's six wins came without conceding, but perhaps more interesting is the fact that all six wins saw them cover a one-goal handicap.

Cards: England's disciplinary record was generally good in qualifying; only once in 10 games did they receive more than two yellows in one game. Overall, their 10 games yielded 35 cards at an average of 3.5, but only in two of these were England responsible for the majority of the bookings.

Other competitive internationals: They haven't played any since losing in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 on penalties to none other than their first opponents in Brazil, Italy.

Build-up (most recent first): After qualifying for the World Cup, England lost against Chile and Germany at Wembley - both of whom will be in Brazil. Before heading to the World Cup, they signed off in front of their fans with a 3-0 win over Peru - the scoreline somewhat flattering them - and were then held to draw by fellow qualifiers Ecuador and Honduras in Florida.

v Honduras (neutral) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Ecuador (neutral) 2-2 (HT 1-1) Rooney 29, Lambert 51
v Peru (home) 3-0 (HT 1-0) Sturridge 32, Cahill 65, Jagielka 70
v Denmark (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Sturridge 82
v Germany (home) 0-1 (HT 0-1)
v Chile (home) 0-2 (HT 0-1)

Team verdict: From Stephen Hawking to your barber and every stop inbetween, everyone has an opinion on England. Only, for once, this time the verdict appears unanimous: they'll do well to get out of Group D.

It's hard to escape that notion. In Italy, England face proven World Cup performers with a progressive profile while the threat carried by Uruguay will be all too familiar - particularly if Luis Suarez is passed fit. Costa Rica's will be less familiar and less dangerous, but it's one which deserves to be taken seriously.

With lower expectation comes less pressure, in theory at least, but I for one don't buy into the argument that pressure holds England back. No, to me it's much more simple and it comes down to personnel. Man for man, England are not the best team in their group so anything beyond the last 16 automatically qualifies as a relative success.

Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana all boast an ability to create something from nothing and it's that which will give England fans hope, rather than an ability to get down and dirty and grind their way to the latter stages.

The reality is that Hodgson will slot his approach somewhere between these options and that it won't be enough, even if history will tell you they've not lost a World Cup group game for the best part of 20 years.

More relevant may be the fact that they finished second to the United States in their 2010 group, a repeat of which would be a fine achievement.

<Best bet (with Sky Bet): England to finish bottom of Group D at 6/1 - Costa Rica may have been underestimated; worth a punt


ITALY


Outright odds (with Sky Bet): 25/1
To win group: 13/8
To qualify: 2/5

Full squad: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain), Ignazio Abate (Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), Gabriel Paletta (Parma), Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain), Mario Balotelli (Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli).

Manager: Cesare Prandelli

World Cup record: Four-time winners (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006), twice runners-up (1970, 1994), third (1990), fourth (1978)

How they qualified (most recent first): Comfortable winners of UEFA Group B, winning six and drawing the other four of their 10 games

v Armenia (home) 2-2 (HT 1-1) Florenzi 24, Balotelli 76
v Denmark (away) 2-2 (HT 1-1) Osvaldo 28, Aquilani 90+1
v Czech Republic (home) 2-1 (HT 0-1) Chiellini 51, Balotelli 54
v Bulgaria (home) 1-0 (HT 1-0) Gilardino 38
v Czech Republic (away) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Malta (away) 2-0 (HT 2-0) Balotelli 8, 45
v Denmark (home) 3-1 (HT 2-1) Montolivo 34, De Rossi 37, Balotelli 54
v Armenia (away) 3-1 (HT 1-1) Pirlo 11, De Rossi 64, Osvaldo 82
v Malta (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Destro 5, Peluso 90+2
v Bulgaria (away) 2-2 (HT 2-1) Osvaldo 36, 40

Goalscorers: Mario Balotelli led the way in qualifying with five goals; Dani Osvaldo scored four. No Italy player opened the scoring more than once during the campaign and Italy's 19 goals came via 11 different players. Daniele De Rossi was the only other to score twice.

Half-time/full-time: Four of Italy's six wins came when they had led at half-time; one came from behind and the other from a half-time draw. Of their four draws, three had been level at the break but one came when Italy had held a half-time advantage.

Clean sheets: Italy kept four clean sheets at a ratio of 40%; two of these came against Malta, who finished adrift at the bottom of the group. Armenia scored three against Italy but those opponents did win 4-0 in Denmark to suggest they posed a serious attacking threat.

Win to nil: Half of Italy's six wins were to nil. Again, two were against Malta and the other came against Bulgaria at home. They beat both Czech Republic and Denmark at home despite conceding, as they did away to Armenia.

Cards: Counting reds as two, Italy games produced 39 cards at 3.9 per game. Italy received two red cards - both to strikers - but received either zero or one card in six of those 10 games. Notably, their last four saw a marked disciplinary improvement.

Other competitive internationals (most recent first): Italy beat only Mexico and Japan in in last summer's Confederations Cup in Brazil. They did, however, hold both Spain and Uruguay, losing on penalties to the former and beating the latter to claim third spot.

v Uruguay (neutral) 2-2, 3-2 pens (HT 1-0) Astori 24, Diamanti 73
v Spain (neutral) 0-0, 6-7 pens (HT (0-0)
v Brazil (away) 2-4 (HT 0-1) Giaccherini 51, Chiellini 71
v Japan (neutral) 4-3 (HT 1-2) De Rossi 41, Uchida (OG) 50, Balotelli 52, Giovinco 86
v Mexico (neutral) 2-1 (HT 1-1) Pirlo 27, Balotelli 78

Build-up (most recent first): Having completed their qualification with two draws, Italy have added four more in international friendlies, coming from behind to take something from games with fellow World Cup qualifiers Germany and Nigeria. They did lose to reigning champions Spain, though, and concluded their pre-tournament preparation wholly unconvincingly against Republic of Ireland and Luxembourg.

v Luxembourg (home) 1-1 (HT 1-0) Marchisio 9
v Republic of Ireland (neutral) 0-0 (HT 0-0)
v Spain (away) 0-1 (HT 0-0)
v Nigeria (neutral) 2-2 (HT 1-2) Rossi 12, Giaccherini 46
v Germany (home) 1-1 (HT 1-1) Abate 28

Team verdict: In the past, it's been pretty easy to know what to expect from Italy at a World Cup. A solid defence, typically supported by a world-class goalkeeper, would make them hard to beat and allow their star player - ordinarily wearing the number 10 shirt - to carve for them a path to the latter stages.

With four draws and six wins from their group games you'd be forgiven for thinking that it'll be more of the same in Brazil, but Prandelli has built a side who he feels are capable of taking opponents by surprise - particularly with the fluid nature of their play.

Couple this surprise-package element with the attacking talent of Mario Balotelli, Serie A's top scorer Ciro Immobile and the prolific Mattia Destro and once again Italy arrive at a World Cup as a dark horse not to be underestimated, even if they take a slightly unfamiliar shape.

Certainly, much has changed since they finished bottom of a group which included New Zealand four years ago and while there's a sense that we'll see them in a better light at the 2016 European Championships, Italy do now have an eye-catching blend of experience (see captain Gigi Buffon and the evergreen Andrea Pirlo) and youth which could see them go far.

Certainly, I consider them the team to beat in Group D.

Best bet (with Sky Bet): Italy to win Group D at 13/8 - few weaknesses on paper and Prandelli seems to have everyone pulling in the right direction.

GROUP VERDICT

Italy look the team to beat in what could be one of the most competitive groups which could well see every team in with a chance heading into the final set of games.

Their mix of experience and youth looks a good one and a decent qualification campaign marks them out as the class of the group.

Costa Rica should certainly not be written off and there could be some value in backing them to do anything other than finish bottom.

I'm concerned for England given their draw and certainly feel they are too short to progress. Backing them to finish bottom at a big price seems a fair enough punt - if you can handle putting money on them to perform badly.

  • Prices correct as of June 3.


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eanwhile, England's best U21 players playing with those most likely to be in the senior team from 2020 onwards might increase their chances in those tournaments to a point where they could actually be potential winners. Unlike 2016.

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m not a doctor, but the cause is likely to be crap dancing after scoring. My prognosis is we may need to take that leg off.

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or the time being we just have to focus on the players we do have, Rodgers said. We have to make the best of what is available. Jesus wept!

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