Friday 5th of December 2013, the night of the draw for the most prestigious tournament in the history of football – The World Cup.
Amongst the anticipation and anxiety of football fans around the world, the feeling of fear was inserted into the heart of the British public when they where drawn into Group D of the tournament along side Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica.
England’s form as a team has been less than convincing in recent games with draws against Poland, Montenegro and Ukraine in their World Cup qualifying group and losses against both Chile and Germany in their two previous games.
Therefore, being drawn into a group which collectively has seven titles between the four teams, the most for any one group in history, (Italy 4, Uruguay 2, England 1) is more than worrying for any Three Lions fan.
Uruguay on the other hand, are in exceptional form and look set to be a real force in next year’s World Cup. After having a shaky start to their World Cup qualification campaign with loses to Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, Uruguay have now won five out of their last seven games.
Only losing once by a narrow 1 – 0 margin to Ecuador, Uruguay seem to be fired up and ready to go with Liverpool star Luis Suarez leading the way with an incredible run of form.
The most notable of their recent victories was a 3 – 2 win against former World Cup winners Argentina in a World Cup Qualifier, and a 5 – 0 thumping of Jordan which secured their place in Brazil for 2014.
Similarly to England, Italy have also experienced a mixed bag in terms of their form of late. They have drawn their last four games, with their last win coming in Turin where they just managed to hold on to a 2-1 win against Czech Republic thanks to a Mario Balotelli penalty.
However, despite loosing games to international giants such as Spain, Brazil and Argentina, Italy have beaten the likes of Uruguay, Mexico and Japan this year on top of going unbeaten throughout their World Cup qualifying campaign.
They finished top of Group Q with a total of twenty two points, six points clear of Denmark who finished second.
The third and final team in Group D is one which has probably skipped the minds of most people in terms of competition for England and challengers top two qualifying spaces, but none the less Costa Rica are not a team to be underestimated.
In their previous seven games Costa Rica lead by captain and Fulham player Bryan Ruiz have lost three, won three and drawn one, with wins against Mexico and the Untied States in their qualifying group.
Costa Rica finished second with a total of eighteen points, marginally evading Honduras who finished on fifteen points despite beating Costa Rica on two separate occasions.
With the World Cup only 183 days away Hodgson and his men have some serious preparation to do before flying out to Manaus ahead of their first group game against Italy.
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