Earlier in the week, we previewed Group C. Now we break down one of the most stacked groups in the Cup, Group D. Here, we have Uruguay, who made the semi-finals in 2010, Italy, who finished runner-up at Euro 2012, and England, who year in and year out have one of the most talented teams in the world. Let’s break it down!

Uruguay-Flag Uruguay

Can’t Miss Talent

Luis Suarez– Suarez is coming off one of the best seasons in Premiere League history, a season honored with the EPL Player of the Year. Now, he must take his talents to the international stage, where he made me more famous for his handball that saved Uruguay against Ghana four years ago then for his actual goal scoring. Make no mistake though, Suarez will be a serious contender for the Golden Boot award if he’s able to navigate his team through this tough group.

Rising Star

Abel Hernandez– Hernandez has been one of the post productive young players on the international stage that we’ve seen in the past couple of years. The 23-year-old striker has notched seven goals in just 11 appearances, and he figures to increase that total this summer in Brazil. Hernandez and Suarez could turn out to be one of the best combinations we will see all summer, and Hernandez could very well become a house hold name quickly.

The Key for the Uruguyans

For the first time in a while, Uruguay comes in with a certain level of expectation. The South American team used to be the class of the world in soccer, but they had fallen off in recent years until a surprise semi-finals run in 2010. Now you have that, combined with the pressure of Suarez winning the EPL Player of the Year, and it’s expectations that could be the biggest fault for Uruguay, who on paper, are the favorites to win this group.

Luis-Suarez-Uruguay-v-Sou-006-World-Cup-2014

How Far Can They Go

Uruguay is one of the tougher teams to figure out, especially in this tough group. I could see Uruguay getting third in this group just as easily as I could see them win two, tie one, and virtually dominate the group. If they do win, they should be heavy favorites to win the second round, unless they get an unlucky matchup with Colombia. Suarez is talented enough to carry this team to the quarterfinals, but he won’t be able to get them over that hump alone. Fact is, they had a favorable quarterfinals matchup with Ghana in the last cup. They won’t get it so easy this time around.

Costa-Rica Costa Rica

Can’t Miss Talent

Bryan Ruiz– The captain of the Costa Ricans will need to be a leader in this rather stacked group if they want to have any shot at sneaking into second place. Ruiz spent three years at Fulham before being on loan at PSV this past season, and Ruiz has scored 12 goals in 62 caps for the national team. At 28, Ruiz is one of the most experienced players on the squad, and will be looked at to produce miracles for this team.

Rising Star

Celso Borges– I’m stretching the notion of “rising star”, as Borges is a season vet for the team, having 61 caps and 14 goals on the international level. Borges will be the leader in the midfielder despite not playing club level on the biggest stages like many of the players on the other teams in this group.

The Key for the Costa Ricans

In a group that is a three horse race, Costa Rica is a distant 4th. The other three teams are in the top 12 in the world, while Costa Rica is down at 34th. It will take a small number of miracles for this team to get past the group stage, but both Italy and England are notorious for occasionally laying eggs on the big stage, which could give Costa Rica a fighting chance.

How Far Can They Go

As I typed that last sentence, the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” bit from Dumb and Dumber went through my head. It really is along those lines for Costa Rica to get out of the group, as they will be simply overmatched in nearly every way. A second round birth would be a huge success, and anything after that would be icing on the proverbial cake.

marking-flag-england England

Can’t Miss Talent

Wayne Rooney– Despite an off year at Manchester United, and a propensity to disappear in big stages like the World Cup, Wayne Rooney is still at the top of the class in English football. Rooney is starting to get up there in age, and while this more than likely that World Cup 2014 isn’t his last, it might be the last Cup in his prime. Look for Rooney to strike early and often in his games trying to push the tempo and get his team crucial points in games that could go either way.

wayne-rooney_World-Cup-2014

Rising Star

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain– This British team is loaded with young talent that cut their teeth in the EPL year round. While Raheem Sterling is certainly a great choice for rising star, I think Oxlade-Chamberlain will see more of the field, and the 20-year-old could be one of the keys to a success for England. He will likely spend more time in the midfield than in the striker role, but his youthful energy will spring him forward if they need a quick score.

The Key for the Brits

England will have plenty of experiences of falling short to look back on, having been knocked out in the Quarterfinals or earlier in the last three World Cups. England starts off with Italy, then much face Uruguay before their should be win against Costa Rica. That means England could find themselves out of the race if they don’t find a way to win one of those first two games. Experience and motivation of years of disappointment should be all the Brits need to rally together.

How Far Can They Go

No matter if they get the one or two seed if they advance, England figures to have a favorable second round matchup, as Colombia would be the only team they wouldn’t be favored to win. While English fans will tell you that nothing short of a title would satisfy them, I feel that breaking the barrier to the semi-finals would show enough progress to hold them over. That is the ceiling for this team, though realistically, this looks like another Quarterfinals defeat to me.

italy_flag Italy

Can’t Miss Talent

Daniele De Rossi– Andrea Pirlo is the ultimate veteran on this team, with 108 caps and 13 goals. However, the 34-year-old is a few years past his prime, and while De Rossi, who is 30, is just at the end of the prime of his career, he is considered by many to be the leader of the squad. The key for the Italians will be controlling the midfield and getting the ball to the forwards up top, and De Rossi is one of the best in possession in the world.

Rising Star

Mario Balotelli- Usually in the headlines for all the wrong reason, Balotelli let his play do the talking in Euro 2012 when he netted both goals in a semi-finals upset over Germany. He will need to find that firepower again this time around, and he’s had the luxury of playing in his home country of Italy after being transferred to AC Milan. If, and this is a huge if, Balotteli can keep his head in the game, there are few in the world who can stop him.

The Key for the Italians

If Uruguay ends up holding serve as the favorite to win the group, then the opening game between Italy and England could ultimately decide the second place finisher in the group. Italy will be looking to bounce back from an embarrassing 2010 campaign, where they didn’t make it out of the group stage as they were looking to defend their title from 2006. If they can start with three points against England, they will be well on their way to besting that showing.

How Far Can They Go

Italy is well known as one of the most inconsistent international teams in soccer. In 2006, Italy shocked many when they won the world cup, defeating France in penalty kicks. In their title defense, Italy managed just two ties in what was considered one of the weakest groups in the tournament. Now in 2014, Italy has a gut check here, as they will worst case face Colombia in the second round, a team they are capable of beating. From there, it’s hard to see this team push past the quarterfinals, but when they are on, they can beat any team in the world, even the likes of Brazil and Spain.

Final Group Prediction

1. Uruguay

2. Italy

3. England

4. Costa Rica

Who do you think will win Group D of World Cup 2014? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!