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Match Previews

World Cup 2014 Group D Preview

7 June 2014

By Rhys Griffiths

The World Cup begins in Brazil next week and in the build-up to the tournament we're taking a look at what lies in wait in each of the eight groups. Today we are looking at Group D, which sees England taking on Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.

Uruguay

Two-time World Cup winners and current Copa America champions, Uruguay made hard work of qualification for Brazil and were forced to overcome Jordan in a play-off to seal their place at the tournament. English fans will know all about the threat posed by Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who scored at a rate of almost a goal a game in the Premier League this season, but he is battling to recover from a knee injury in time for the start of the competition. Should Suarez fail to be fit, Los Charruas coach Oscar Tabarez will look to Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani to lead from the front.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica reached the last 16 in 1990, but replicating that feat in Brazil will be a tall order for La Sele after they were drawn in a group with three sides harbouring legitimate ambitions of reaching the latter stages of the knock-out rounds. Losing their major attacking threat, Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio, to injury on the eve of the tournament will make the task for coach Jorge Luis Pinto's side even trickier.

England

England's persistent failure to progress beyond the quarter-finals of a major tournament during the era of the so-called Golden Generation has left expectations at their lowest point for almost two decades. Fans will likely be happy to see Roy Hodgson's side - which blends big-tournament experience with youthful emerging talents - make it beyond a tricky group and then simply see what happens once the knock-out games begin. The Three Lions will hope Manchester United's Wayne Rooney can finally make a decisive mark on a major finals, while the experience of Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard will be vital in a team likely to feature youngsters making their World Cup bow.

Italy

Four-time World Cup winners Italy go into this summer's tournament with Brazil's record of five victories in their sights, and Cesare Prandelli's side know exactly what it takes to progress to the business end of major tournaments. The Azzurri are, however, known to be slow starters and England will hope this reputation is correct when the two sides meet in Manaus in their opening fixture. The veteran Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo will keep the Italians ticking over in the centre of the field, while unpredictable AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli will attract attention up front.

Group D Fixtures (all times UK)

June 14, 20:00: Uruguay v Costa Rica - Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
June 14, 23:00: England v Italy - Arena Amazonia, Manaus
June 19, 20:00: Uruguay v England - Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo
June 20, 17:00: Italy v Costa Rica - Arena Pernambuco, Recife
June 24, 17:00: Italy v Uruguay - Arena das Dunas, Natal
June 24, 17:00: Costa Rica v England - Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte


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