Group D provides some interesting matchups as Uruguay, Italy, England and Costa Rica were drawn together on Friday. Uruguay are your seeded team, but Italy are the likely favorites, at least on paper. For England, it's a challenging group and one that they'll need to get a bit lucky to escape from. Group D kicks off in Fortaleza at the Estadio Castelao on July 14.
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Italy are your group favorites though Uruguay should be right there with them, along with providing their biggest challenge in the group. The Italians are solid from front to back and should be able to top the group. The seemingly immortal Gianluigi Buffon is a wall at the back and the dynamic attacking duo of Mario Balotelli and Giuseppe Rossi should create goals.
Uruguay is a good bet to go through as they have a knack for seemingly always doing that. It doesn't really matter who they're playing in the group stages, Uruguay always seems to rise to the occasion at the World Cup and do extremely well. That said, they struggled through CONMEBOL qualifying and were extremely inconsistent. If anything could trip them up, it will be their aging defense.
England fans won't like this one bit, but there's every reason to believe they'll be heading home early from Brazil. Yes they have a chance, yes anything can happen, but despite the fact that many might put them ahead of Uruguay, it's going to take a strong performance for them to pull that off. That's something England seems to fail to do at times.
A young Costa Rica overachieved in CONCACAF qualifying, coming in a bit ahead of schedule in terms of their development. While they certainly could cause a upset, it's hard to see them getting out of the group. The Ticos have plenty of attacking options with Bryan Ruiz, Alvaro Saborio and 21-year-old Joel Campbell. They may not end up with a single point but that said, they shouldn't embarrass themselves in the process.
Edinson Cavani. The Paris Saint-Germain star can score goals, lots and lots of goals. Not to mention the fact his size, power and speed make him a joy to watch. Add in his flowing locks streaming behind him as he makes runs at the goal, and what more could you ask for.
Mario Balotelli is a household name in the soccer world, but his on- and off-the-field antics have made him a bit of an enigma in the eyes of many. This World Cup will provide Super Mario with the chance to show off his abilities and potentially win over fans, assuming he can avoid the red cards and emotional outbursts and simply put the ball in the back of the net.
Italy vs. England on June 14 in Manaus at the Arena Amazonia. Luis Suarez vs. England ... the headlines alone will be legendary.