This World Cup's Group D is the group of death by a couple metrics - it has the highest average ranking in the June update of FIFA's nonsensical rankings. It's also the group that the most American soccer fans would probably want to crawl into a hole for a while. You've got England, who many of us root against specifically to spite our Anglophone friends; Italy, who invented Catenaccio and stopped to start a street fight with Brian McBride & co. on their way to the 2006 World Cup title; Uruguay, which is to say Luis Suarez, who is the ultimate frustrating combination of the sublime and the mind-bogglingly asinine; and our CONCACAF rivals Costa Rica, who lodged a formal protest about the famous snow game in qualifying last February. Basically, if you're looking for a group with feel-good stories and teams worth rooting for, go somewhere else.
Oh, we're still going to predict the outcome for you. Don't you worry.
Despite the names and history in this group, it's actually quite weak. No one is quite sure when Luis Suarez will be able to play, but Uruguay should win this group via their normal ferocity and the goals of Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan (yes, still playing at 35). England finally enters a tournament without laughable hype surrounding them, but they're still not anything special. Italy may be coming in with one of their weaker teams over the past 40 years, but it's enough to finish 2nd here. Costa Rica couldn't afford to lose any starters in this group, but lost Bryan Oviedo in the winter and Alvaro Saborio just a couple of weeks ago.
The one team I know that won't make it out of group is Costa Rica, as they had maybe a chance to get second, and that was before the injuries Jason mentioned. Uruguay will be a sentimental favorite for a few folks there as the Copa America champions and they've got the firepower and enough defense to get out of group. And while my mother's side of the family will hate me for saying so, England is a cycle away from doing anything of consequence and Italy's horses will ride them into the knockout stages.
The group of former champions will be a slugfest. Uruguay would love nothing better than to show the world that they are the historic champions of South America (notwithstanding Brazil's amazing success in the World Cup over the decades). Uruguay will win the group, while England and Italy will wage metaphorical war for second place. Expect England to win this matchup just so they can move on to the knockout round in which they will lose on penalty kicks (it must and will happen). Costa Rica is along for the ride but certainly the weakest side in this group.
Adam M Taylor
This group is Uruguay's to lose, and we all know they don't like to do that in World Cups held in Brazil. (1950 reference, yo!) I'm not sure why Edinson Cavani isn't getting any golden boot hype, but he's my dark horse pick to claim the tournament's scoring crown. Costa Rica will be out of their depth, which probably doesn't need explaining. Italy will back into the knockout stages when England finds a way to finish third in what should be a winnable group, and I'll laugh and laugh.
Uruguay is on a mission to try and recreate 1950 in the Maracanã all over again. They emerge as the class of the group and England is left wondering why as they fall to Italy, who goes on to take 2nd.
What say you, readers? Who's the class of an unlikeable Group D - or do you fancy one of these sides on their own merit?