The Colorado Rapids sales and service staff put together previews of each World Cup group, and we will be running their perspective and predictions on the day that each group opens play. Group D preview is written by Service Specialist Trevor Wallace.
Uruguay: Led by 2014 double Player of the Year award winner Luis Suarez, La Celeste look to literally run the competition off the pitch. Up top, Suarez is paired with Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain, and to boot, the dynamite strikers are backed by a defense that didn’t allow a single group stage goal in 2010. The defense was not as dominate during qualifying, but things seemed to fall into place during later matches. Expectations are high for the 7th ranked team in the world and as always, Suarez alone is must-watch television.
Italy: The Azzurri are traditionally strong in tournaments, and most recently were runners-up in the 2012 European Championship to defending world champions Spain. The Italians are also bettered only by Brazil for total World Cups won (five for Brazil, four for Italy). If history has any say, these two teams should meet late in the tournament. At 23, AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli is on the shortlist of the best young players in the world, and can make amazing things happen at any time. Italy is known for its frustratingly disciplined and defensive style of play, and will expect to be playing late into the tournament.
England: 2010’s elimination in the round of 16 was considered a disappointment, and in 2014, it might be a tall order to match that result. This is not to say that England lacks talent, only that they find themselves in Group D. The Three Lions’ best bet to advance likely requires a draw against either Uruguay or Italy along with three points against Costa Rica. Wayne Rooney’s relentlessness is considered to be the portrait of English soccer. Unfortunately this time around, tenacity might not be enough to advance.
Costa Rica: Local soccer fans undoubtedly remember this squad, which came to Colorado to play the U.S. in the middle of a March blizzard last year. Los Ticos stingy defense may very well play spoiler to one of the other three teams, but are unlikely make it out of the group stage. Although they are not expected to advance, their defensive style is intriguing against the top-flight strikers in the group.
- Costa Rica