Containing three national teams that have already won the World Cup title and an up-and-coming side from CONCACAF, Group D is likely to offer us premium entertainment. Euro 2012 finalists Italy are considered the number one favourites despite being on a seven-match winless run, and that is hardly surprising when we all know that the Azzurri tend to perform at tournament finals whatever the circumstances.
However, they will not have an easy task of progressing into the knockout rounds, with Uruguay determined to build on the semi-final appearance at the 2010 World Cup and England desperate to finally prove their worth at the biggest stage. Last but not least, it will be up to Costa Rica to try and make the group even more interesting than it already is.
Winners of Group D
Italy have largely struggled in international friendlies, with 1-1 draw against weak Luxembourg hardly a perfect sending off, but nobody at the camp is concerned by the poor results and rightly so might I add. While they rarely give their best in friendly fixtures, the Azzurri have almost never failed to play to their potential at tournament finals, which is why I see them as favourites to win Group D.
Their amazing experience at the biggest stage and presence of players like Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele De Rossi gives Cesare Prandelli plenty of reason for optimism, with strong performances at the Euro 2012 and 2013 Confederations Cup, when the Azzurri were extremely unlucky not to beat Spain in the semis, clearly as a sign of things to come.
Best Odds to Win Group D
The rock-solid defence is likely to prove a very difficult obstacle for all three teams in the group, while the likes of Balotelli, Cassano, Candreva and co. should manage to find a way to score, obviously with a big help from effervescent Andrea Pirlo, who remains one of the world’s best playmakers and free-kick takers.
To Qualify from Group D
While Italy can be trusted to make it to the Last 16 stage despite facing a difficult task, picking the other team to progress can prove to be a real headache. And with Costa Rica highly unlikely to spring a surprise, it will come down to Uruguay vs England. The Three Lions clearly have potential in their ranks, but Roy Hodgson’s decision to go with a youthful side is likely to come back to haunt him.
With only several players in the squad boasting World Cup experience and the likes of Rooney, Wilshere, Chamberlain and Jagielka either struggling or not fully fit, chances are England will crash out in group stage once again. Meanwhile, Uruguay arrive at the tournament finals with virtually the same squad that qualified for 2010 World Cup and 2013 Confederations Cup semi-finals and won the 2011 Copa America, which is enough to suggest they know how to perform at the highest level.
Best Odds To Qualify from Group D
Even with Luis Suarez likely to miss the start of the tournament, La Celeste look a good bet to pip England to the second place in the group, with their superior quality and experience likely to prove decisive, especially since the weather conditions will play to their advantage as well.
Group D Match Betting Tips
The match between Uruguay and Costa Rica will start the competition in Group D and that particular game does not seem too difficult to predict. While Los Ticos clearly lack the quality to play at this level, as witnessed by defeats to Chile, Australia, Korea and Japan, their opponents arrive at the tournament in confident mood, having won four of last six matches. Even if Luis Suarez is unlikely to feature, the likes of Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani should prove more than enough to successfully finish quality team moves.
Group D Team to Concede Most Goals
Italy and Uruguay boast rock-solid defences and tend to adopt a cautious approach, which should ensure they do not leak too many goals during group stage, while England is unlikely to be risking too much either as they attempt to upset the odds and qualify for the next phase. Meanwhile, Costa Rica’s back line will be under tremendous pressure against some of world’s best strikers and even if they boast an excellent goalkeeper in Keylor Navas, there is only so much he can do on his own.
Both Teams to Score Match Tips
By the time Costa Rica and England square off in the final round of fixtures in Group D, chances are that at least one of the two sides will have already been eliminated. The other will probably need a big win to stand any chance of reaching the next stage, and that is why we can expect a very open match, with both teams likely to register at least one goal each. Therefore, backing both sides to score seems like a good idea.