Football

England: World Cup 2014 opponents examined

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Steven Gerrard will lead his England side out next summer. (©GettyImages)
Steven Gerrard will lead his England side out next summer. (©GettyImages).

England have been handed a tough ask after being drawn to face Uruguay, Costa Rica and Italy in the World Cup group stage in Brazil next summer.

Roy Hodgson's team will also have to face the intense humidity of playing in Manaus, where they will open against the Italians. GiveMeSport contributor Harry Diamond previews England's opposition for next summer.

Uruguay

Fifa ranking: 6
Best finish: Winners (2), 1930, 1950
Manager: Oscar Taberez
Star man: Luis Suarez

Uruguay are the seeded team in World Cup group D, having qualified for Brazil 2014 via a play-off tie against Asian minnows Jordan.

Two-times winners, Uruguay have never lost to England at a World Cup and in Liverpool's Luis Suarez and PSG's Edinson Cavani boast two of the most feared strikers in world football.

The South Americans are an ageing side, but will be confident competing on their home continent, Uruguay won the last World Cup held in Brazil in 1950. The Uruguayans reached the semi-finals in South Africa four years ago.

Costa Rica

Fifa Ranking: 31
Best finish: Round of 16, 1990
Manager: Jorge Luis Pinto
Star man: Bryan Ruiz

The rank outsiders to qualify from the group, Costa Rica qualified by finishing runners-up to the USA in the North American section of qualifying.

They are captained by Fulham's Bryan Ruiz and whilst clear underdogs for the group should not be underestimated, they beat both Mexico and the USA in qualification. Joel Campbell, on loan at Olympiakos from Arsenal, will be a threat upfront.

Italy

Fifa Ranking: 8
Best finish: Winners (4), 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006
Manager: Cesare Prandelli
Star man: Mario Balotelli

Four-times winners Italy knocked England out of Euro 2012 on penalties and boast World Cup pedigree of the highest order.

They crashed out at the group stage in South Africa in 2010 but bounced back by reaching the final of Euro 2012.

Ex-Premier League maverick Mario Balotelli will provide the fire-power upfront whilst the evergreen Andrea Pirlo continues to orchestrate and pull the strings in midfield.

England will have to perform better than in their last competitive meeting to get a result in the opening game next summer.

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Topics:
World Cup
Football
Italy Football
England Football
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