It’s been described as the “Group of Death" by some quarters and it’s certainly going to be touch-and-go whether England manage to force themselves through it. While Italy and Uruguay are seen as the Three Lions’ biggest opponents, many are under the impression that this is Costa Rica’s best squad in years and they might not be the no-hopers that everyone is predicting.
Bearing the above in mind, we’ll now take a look at the star men from each of these teams and see just what influence they could have on how Group D pans out.
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Costa Rica – Joel Campbell
Normally, the likes of Alvaro Saborio or Bryan Oviedo might be pushing for this mantle, but with injury ruling out the duo its left to Arsenal man Joel Campbell to carry the Costa Ricans. While Campbell has yet to play a game for the Gunners since joining in 2011, he did enjoy a successful loan spell at Olympiakos last season after scoring eight goals in thirty two matches. He already has nine in thirty one for his country, with his direct style and pace causing all sorts of problems for opponents. There are rumours that he could be involved in the Arsenal setup next term, meaning that this tournament could be the perfect start to kick-start his career in English football – and it could come at the expense of the England team. Of course, he has already recorded success against English opponents, after scoring one of the goals to help Olympiakos beat Manchester United in the Champions League last season.
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Uruguay – Luis Suarez
There should be no surprises for Uruguay’s star man, particularly if you’re a keen follower of English football. There’s no doubt that Luis Suarez is one of the best strikers in world football at the moment and it’s going to be interesting to see if his current club Liverpool are able to keep him as other teams sniff around. A return of 31 league goals put him firmly top of the Premier League scoring charts, while his form for Uruguay over the years has been just as impressive. He’s averaged almost a goal every other game after bagging 35 in 73 caps – making him one of the few players who can replicate his domestic form on the international stage.
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Italy – Andrea Pirlo
At 35-years-old, some might question just why Andrea Pirlo merits this position. However, every England fan will reel off the reasons and after his stunning displays at Euro 2012, it’s still hard to find a playmaker who is as effective as the Juventus midfielder. He pulls Italy’s strings with ease and has just come back off another successful domestic campaign, with Juve claiming a third straight league title. While Pirlo does not hold the strong physical presence that is common place with a lot of deep-lying midfielders in today’s game, his crafty passes are enough to split any defence and former Three Lions midfielder Paul Scholes has already claimed that he still has the ability to destroy England, if given the chance.
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England – Wayne Rooney
There has been plenty of talk about how Wayne Rooney is going to fare at the World Cup, with England fans desperate that he will finally deliver at a major tournament. The last time he made any sort of impact was in his first, in Euro 2004, and since then everything has remained flat. He is already the 5th top scorer for the country in history and having experienced a successful season with Manchester United, the omens certainly suggest that this could be Rooney’s year. While one could suggest that younger players such as Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could all make a difference, Rooney is now at the age where he has plenty of experience at international level but also seems to have that illusive form and fitness behind him as well ahead of this tournament.