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World Cup 2014: Group D Preview

Friedemann Vogel

Teams: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Liverpool Players: Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Rickie Lambert, Luis Suarez

The script is set perfectly - Luis Suarez faces England, the country that has vilified him, on June 19th in a matchup that highlights an immensely entertaining group. This is another group that features three teams with genuine ambitions to reach the late stages of the tournament, but in contrast with some of the other three team races, the fourth team here, Costa Rica, is actually semi-competitive.

Which team are you most confident in from Group D?

I would have said Italy, but Riccardo Montolivo broke his leg which weakens their midfield considerably, even though they still have some world class options in the center of the park. So I think I'll go with Uruguay, just because they have two of the best forwards on the planet and we've already seen that be enough for them last time around. (Dan)

This is tough. While Uruguay's striker pair is formidable, and more than capable of carrying them pretty far, their soft midfield and defense worry me. While I think they can beat almost anyone, there are just too many question marks on that team for me to feel really confident in them. Italy on the other hand are solid all the way through. They won't blow anyone away, but they are good enough to do well. I think Uruguay has a higher ceiling, but I trust Italy more to achieve what's expected of them. (blunatic)

Italy use too many older players. While I like Buffon, Chiellini, and Pirlo, they're too old to go deep in the tournament. I think Sirigu's just as good right now as Buffon is. Uruguay's team depends on Lui and Cavani, and while they're capable, like Blu said, they're let down by their defensive frailties. England always are scrutinized even before the tournament even starts, and it always gets to them. I'm not entirely sure. Costa Rica aren't anything to laugh at either, but in this group they're expected to go out. Maybe that can help them. (JAceKopite16)

What do you make of this year's England squad under Roy Hodgson? How far can they go?

Roy Hodgson isn't the right manager for England and he's tasked with what I believe is the third best squad in the group. England might advance to the knockout round, but don't expect them to go much further than that. There simply isn't anything that special about this team, and the struggles of Wayne Rooney only make that more clear. They're solid, but in a tournament of excellence, it's hard to see that being good enough. (Dan)

Between Roy Hodgson and the history of English teams being virtually incapable of playing like one cohesive unit, I don't have a lot of faith in England. The talent to make the quarterfinals or maybe even the semi finals is there I think, but unless they can rally together in a way that they haven't done before, I don't think this team can get out of the round of 16, and I think they'll probably miss out on the knockout stage altogether. (blunatic)

England have that curse that they're still waiting to break of nearly advancing past a good team, and then being pegged back and going out on Pens. Roy's not the man to break that curse. I'd say a Quarter. And they're out on pens. Again. (JAceKopite16)

How do you see the many Liverpool players of this group doing?

There's a lot of them in this group, and I expect them to play well. World Cups do wonders for driving up player values, and I think that Jordan Henderson will see a particularly large boost in recognition from fans unfamiliar with his stellar play. Hopefully Jon Flanagan gets playing time, because he might be the best right back England has at the moment. (Dan)

I have pretty high hopes for all of them. Henderson and Gerrard will be the backbone of the English midfield, and Daniel Sturridge will have to play well for England to advance, especially with Rooney struggling. I really hope to see Sterling have a chance to make an impact in a couple games. As for Suarez, as long as he's recovered from that knee surgery, I think it's pretty safe to say he'll be in typical Suarez form. If Uruguay make another deep run, it will almost surely be in large part thanks to Luis. (blunatic)

I wish I could want our lads to do well without wanting England to do well. Growing up in an Irish family, it's blasphemy to want England to do well. The only reason I'd want England to do well is because Stevie needs the World Cup. But I hope the Liverpool players can perform well without getting hurt. (JAceKopite16)

Which player's performance will have the biggest influence on the outcome of this group?

Mario Balotelli, as always, can make Italy into the most complete team of the group if he's got his head together. Say what you want about his antics, but his talent is enormous. (Dan)

Daniel Sturridge will be key if England are to advance. I don't see them creating many good chances because of Roy Hodgson's terrible style of play, so Sturridge might need to create some things out of nothing like he did against Peru last week or England may be in trouble. If he can play like he did with Liverpool early this year, England might be able to advance in spite of Roy Hodgson. (blunatic)

DStudge. He's as good as Ballotelli, and with the way he's been playing as of late he's not only showing he can score, but set up as well. That's what England has been lacking. (JAceKopite16)

Which Group D matchup excites you the most?

Uruguay v. England because it's Suarez against his haters which should be fun to see. (Dan)

Uruguay v England for me as well. Even though Suarez is teammates with several key members of the England squad, he should be amped to get a chance to stick it to the country that has treated him so poorly (deserved or not) for the last couple years. (blunatic)

Same as above. On all counts. I want to see what happens between Lui, Stevie, and DStudge, mostly. (JAcKopite16)

Reveal your bias! Which team in this group are you pulling for?

I probably sounded negative in my analysis of England, but I do have a soft spot for them considering my love of the Premier League. I'm also pulling for Uruguay because they deserve more appreciation and they have Suarez. (Dan)

I may be a USA fan first and foremost, but I'm pulling for Uruguay and England almost as much. I love Suarez about as much as is humanly possible, and so I love Uruguay by default. Normally I don't really care for England, but with so many Liverpool players with the Three Lions, I'm really hoping they do well. (blunatic)

Anybody but England. If Stevie, Studge, Hendo, or Ras can score in one game each but England lose, I'm happy. (JAcKopite16)