El Maestro – Oscar Tabarez has pulled Uruguay out of footballing obscurity, and into the forefront of the world stage. Uruguay made it via play-offs to Brazil. La Celeste are capable of producing magical, inter-flowing football between their regular front two of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. They are able to trouble any team at the tournament with their explosive front two. Cavani is the battering ram and a stunning finisher. Suarez is the schemer, causing problems with his wonderful dribbling and phenomenal work-rate. They remain something of an unknown quality and as such it is hugely difficult to make an educated guess on what Tabarez’s team can achieve. Without the defensive soliditiy of the 2010 side though, it would be some effort if they were to repeat their fourth place finish from South Africa.

With Diego Forlan age, Luis Suarez has become the key man for Uruguay. The Liverpool man is struggling for fitness presently but he is one of the hottest property in world football at the moment. Possessing pace, exquisite dribbling and a cool head in front of goal, Suarez is able to change the course of the game in an instant. If Uruguay can capitalise on Suarez’s mercurial streak and willingness to chase every ball, he should make up for their distinct lack of attacking talent in midfield. He’s grown into a genuine world class talent this season and if he can recover from his injury, he’s one of the biggest candidates for the golden boot.

We know we’re not among the favourites,” said Oscar Tabarez. “But we also know that if we prepare well we can be a very difficult team to play against, and that’s going to be at the centre of our thoughts.” They poured water in Brazil’s champagne in 1950, and spoiled things for the hosts in 2010, as well as in the last two Copa Americas. Whose party will they ruin this time?


Costa Rica.

Los Ticos were pretty impressive throughout their qualifying campaign. They finished in second place in the CONCACAF hexagonal stage and in doing so progressed to Brazil with relative ease. Although Costa Rica are seen as the group whipping team, it would be ludicrous to think they don’t pose a threat. Ranked 34 in the world by FIFA, Le Sele have no intention of going down quietly. They go into the tournament with a tricky attacking duo and an excellent goalkeeper; one who could easily become their busiest player at the mundial. costa rica

Under their boss Pinto, they play variations of a system which is primarily focused around three central defenders, with the team flexible in whether they play a flat-back five or three centre-backs and a pair of wingbacks. He has fashioned a distinctive, solid and progressive young team ahead of next summer’s showpiece. But for all their defensive qualities, Costa Rica must find a goal scoring touch if they are to match their sterling effort from 1990. Jorge Luis Pinto will feel he has something to prove in what is his second spell as Costa Rica boss. He was relieved of duties in his previous spell back in 2005 despite overseeing the countries successful qualification for the 2006 World Cup.

Bryan Ruiz is expected to captain his nation to a dignified World Cup campaign. Ruiz has spent half of last the season in Holland with PSV. The 28 year-old will likely be Costa Rica’s best form of attack. If there is anyone who can save Costa Rica’s bacon, it’s Keylor Navas. Following an extraordinary season in La Liga with Levante, Navas will be keen to showcase his goalkeeping credentials in footballs greatest event. The 27 year-old kept 16 clean sheets with a saves to shot ratio of over 80 percent. Hid proven particularly effective when it comes to penalties, which England will be terrified to hear.

Sadly for Costa Rica, the group stage is the limit to their expectations in the World Cup.



Every four years, tales of 1966 come flooding back to England fans. However with a young squad and a tough group, the wait for a second World Cup title will probably go on a little longer. England left it late before confirming qualification for Brazil leaving many fans very nervous.

For the first time in many a major tournament, the hyperbole about England potentially lifting the trophy is absent. As the ‘Golden Generation’ is ushered out, young players are coming in, and with that has come an acceptance that England aren’t really major contenders for the title. But they are by no means the no-hopers many in the English media make them out to be. There is pace, power and a little bit of genius in this team. Progression from a tough Group D will be viewed as success here, and the experience gained by players like Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere will be key to their developments.

Wayne Rooney is England’s talisman for this campaign. For many, the Manchester United man is England’s only world class talent and a big performance at a major tournament is long overdue. Indeed, it is hard to believe this World Cup will mark ten years since the then-Everton player took EURO 2004 by storm. Since then, problems with fitness, form, indiscipline and off-field dramas have plagued his major tournament build up. But he seemed mature, fit and settled at Old Trafford this season and there is no reason why he can’t carry his glittering form into the World Cup. When he’s on it, Rooney is a hugely inspiring figure for England, and some strong showings in Brazil will go a long way to the Three Lions achieving their ambitions.

A difficult call on whether they can make it out of the group or not. I think they will. england



La Nazionale’s trip to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa didn’t go quite as planned for the defending world champions. Marcelo Lippi’s Azurri emulated the 1998 World Cup champions France at the 2002 tournament by being eliminated in the group stages. The 2006 winners came through the qualifiers undefeated, topping a group that contained Denmark, Czech Republic and a resurgent Armenia. Winning this group ensured that the Azzurri have now qualified for every World Cup since 1962. Looking ahead to the championships, the Italians are expected the have one of the most experienced squads of any side. Figures like Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Giorgio Chiellini still make up the core of this side, but youngsters like Marco Veratti and Mattia De Sciglio could be blooded in to give the first XI a revitalized feel. Revitalising a fallen giant is never easy, but Italy coach Cesare Prandelli done just that by picking the best and most inform players he has had at his disposal.

Who else do the Italians have to rely on if not Andrea Pirlo… Having earned 108 caps for his country, it seems like Pirlo has been around for an age and at 35-years-old, this looks set to be his last ever major tournament. He is still masterful in this position and has a massive influence on games with expert passing, unparalleled vision, unnerving composure and pin-point set-piece ability.

While Brazil and Spain are the current favourites, Italy are slightly behind them. Italy could even be considered an underdog team, much like in 2006. And when Italy are not considered favourites, it tends to work in their favour. However, the combination of heat and a forward line that could be hit or miss on the day should prevent Italy from making it to the final. italy

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