2014 FIFA World Cup – Group D
Thursday, June 12 – Sunday, July 13, 2014
Host Nation: Brazil
Defending Champion: Spain
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
When the draw for the 2014 World Cup happened, many people said the so called Group of Death was either Group B, D or G. All are tough but group D might be the toughest. Group D contains Italy, Uruguay England and Costa Rica.
Let’s take a look at the teams in Group D with odds to win the group and the World Cup courtesy of Bookmaker.
Italy (+150 Group, +2271 Cup)
Italy is making their 18th appearance in the World Cup and has won it 4 times the last in 2006. Italy looks to rebound from a lousy performance in the 2010 World Cup where they didn’t win a game and were eliminated in the group stage.
Italy is #9 in the FIFA World Rankings. Italy easily won their UEFA qualifying group with 22 points, six points clear of Denmark. The Italians went 6-0-4 and outscored their opponents 19-9.
Italy is coached by Cesare Prandelli who took over the team after the 2010 World Cup. Italy lost to Spain in the Championship game of Euro 2012. Legendary goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon is making his fifth appearance and fourth start for Italy in the World Cup. In 2010, he suffered an injured sciatic nerve and only played in the first half of the opening game against Paraguay. He and Andrea Pirlo are the only holdovers from the 2006 championship team. The volatile Mario Balotelli is one of the best scorers in football but his temper gets him in trouble way too much. Pablo Osvaldo is a talented midfielder. Stephan El Shaarawy and Giuseppe Rossi can also light up the scoreboard.
Discounting group long shot Costa Rica, any of the other three teams in group D can win the group. Possible round of 16 opponents include the four Group C teams, Colombia, Greece, Japan and Ivory Coast. Colombia is the most dangerous of those teams. Italy could face Brazil in the quarters. I don’t see Italy advancing past that point.
England (+222 group, +2245 Cup)
England is making their 14th appearance in the World Cup. They won it in 1966, but have only made the semifinals once in 1990 since then. England lost to Germany 4-1 in the round of 16 in 2010.
England is #10 in the FIFA rankings. The Three Lions won their qualifying group with a 6-0-4 record and outscored their opponents 31-4 in qualifying. Still, they only won their group by a single point over Ukraine, and England avoided the two leg playoff to get into the Cup.
England is coached by veteran Roy Hodgson who has coached 16 different teams in 8 different countries in his long career. Striker Wayne Rooney scored 7 goals in six qualifying games started. Midfielders Stephen Garrard and Frank Lampard can still light up the scoreboard, but both are in their mid 30’s. Talented young players like Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley provide a good mix with the veterans. Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge are also key contributors. Manchester City keeper Joe Hart minds the net.
It is important for Italy, England, and Uruguay to win the group because they will likely avoid a tough match-up with Colombia in the round of 16. Only one of the three can, obviously, and only two of them will qualify for the round of 16. I think England gets squeezed out by Italy and Uruguay. England opens with Italy, before facing Uruguay and Costa Rica.
Uruguay (+180 group, +2590 Cup)
Uruguay is making their 12th World Cup Appearance and won it twice in 1930 and 1950. Uruguay has played in three of the last four World Cups including a surprising semifinal run in 2010.
Uruguay is #7 in the FIFA rankings. Uruguay finished tied for fourth in South American qualifying with 25 points with Ecuador. Ecuador had a better goal differential and clinched the last of the four automatic spots. Uruguay had to play Jordan in a two leg intercontinental playoff. Uruguay won 5-0 on aggregate. While Uruguay is one of the top offensive teams in the world, a leaky defense led them to having to play in ther intercontinental playoff for the third straight World Cup just to qualify. They scored 25 goals but conceded 25 goals as well.
Oscar Tabarez has been the coach of Uruguay since 2006. His contract was renewed after Uruguay’s fourth place finish in 2010 at the World Cup in South Africa. Star striker Luis Suarez scored 11 goals for Uruguay during qualifying but he is battling injuries and fitness could be a concern. Edinson Cavani is a capable scorer in his own right and might need to pick up the scoring slack if Suarez can’t go or is ineffective. Think of Cavani as the Dwyane Wade to Suarez’s LeBron James. Veteran defender Diego Lugano is nearing 100 caps for the national team. There is no telling how bad the defense would be with his leadership as the captain. Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera needs to play much better than he did during qualifying in order for Uruguay to have similar success as in 2010.
The leaky defense could prove to be their undoing, but Uruguay does have a huge advantage playing the tournament in neighboring Brazil. A second place finish in the group could lead to a round of 16 date with South American rival Colombia. A possible Greece-Uruguay match-up could be interesting because Greece can’t score and Uruguay can’t stop anyone. Even if they survive the group and round of 16 a potential quarterfinal match-up against Brazil might prove to be too much for Uruguay.
Costa Rica (+4150 Group, +80250 Cup)
Costa Rica is making their fourth trip to the World Cup since 1990. There first appearance in the Cup in 1990 was their best finish when they made it to the Round of 16. Costa Rica barely missed out on the 2010 World Cup losing to Uruguay in a two leg playoff.
Costa Rica is #28 in the FIFA rankings. Costa Rica finished second in CONCACAF qualifying with 18 points, behind the United States. Costa Rica won all five games at home in qualifying, including wins against the US and Mexico. Costa Rica had two losses at Honduras and against the US in a blizzard in Denver. Costa Rica scored 13 goals and conceded 7 during qualifying.
Jorge Luis Pinto is in his second stint as Costa Rican coach after being rehired in 2011. Forward Bryan Ruiz is a talented striker. Costa Rica’s slim chances took a hit when it was announced Bryan Oviedo will miss the World Cup with an injury. Forward Alvoro Saborio scored 8 goals during qualifying for Costa Rica. Joel Campbell is an up and coming star, but he is best known in the United States for a ridiculous dive against the US that resulted in a yellow card against his opponent in a qualifying game. Keylor Navas is the keeper.
Costa Rica is a long shot to win this group with three top ten ranked teams in the group. Still Costa Rica is a very good defensive team and they could play spoiler by frustrating the others. Winning the group or even making the knockout phase might be out of the question, but Costa Rica could gain a draw or two.
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