World Cup 2014: Guide to England's Group D

URUGUAY (seeded)

How do they play?

Style & formation: As qualifying went on, coach Oscar Tabarez settled on a pragmatic and counter-attacking 4-4-2. The industrious Edinson Cavani leads the line, with Luis Suarez given licence to roam.

Tabarez, however, is not afraid to switch formations, doing so in away matches and during the Confederations Cup to counteract the opposition, including playing 3-5-2 and 4-3-3. Expect him to vary it up in Brazil.

Strengths: In Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and the evergreen Diego Forlan, Uruguay possess magnificent striking options.

Highlights: Italy edge out Uruguay in Confederations Cup

Oscar Tabarez has also reintroduced the Uruguayan characteristic 'garra' - an inner belief that they are tougher than their opponent, both technically and mentally.

Weaknesses: Diego Godin aside, part of Atletico Madrid's miserly defence, Uruguay's defensive department is ageing. Diego Lugano and midfield enforcer Edgidio Arevalo headline the over-thirties. They have worn the shirt with pride but for some Brazil very much has an end of party feel to it.

Key player

Luis Suarez, 26, is Uruguay's all-time leading scorer with 39 goals in 76 caps; he beat Diego Forlan's previous record during last year's Confederations Cup. The Liverpool forward's pace, fleet-footedness, power and control make him one of the game's most potent strikers. He may have scored three goals at the 2010 World Cup but his handball on the line in the quarter-final against Ghana is the abiding memory of him from South Africa.

He is a doubt to start the World Cup after picking up a knee injury.

One to watch

Diego Godin has always been in the shadows of his centre-back partner Diego Lugano, but not anymore. Godin became a leader of men at Atletico this season and was voted La Liga player of the month for April and May.

The boss

Oscar Tabarez demands more respect than most in Uruguay. The former teacher has revamped the youth set-up, led them to fourth at the World Cup and won a Copa America during his second spell. He has made a proud nation proud again.

World Cup record

Winners of the inaugural World Cup on home soil in 1930, they also lifted the trophy in 1950 - the only other time Brazil have hosted the tournament. Uruguay have also finished fourth on three occasions: 1954, 1970 and 2010.

Record v England

They have never lost to England at a World Cup, winning 4-2 in a 1954 quarter-final and drawing 0-0 in the group stage of England's successful 1966 campaign. Overall, they have won four and drawn three of 10 meetings but lost the most recent encounter 2-1 at Anfield in a 2006 friendly.

Fifa ranking: 7

Squad

Uruguay's typical starting XI

Uruguay's typical starting XI

Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama), Rodrigo Munoz (Libertad).

Defenders: Maximiliano Pereira (Benfica), Diego Lugano (West Bromwich Albion), Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez (both Atletico Madrid), Sebastian Coates (Liverpool), Martin Caceres (Juventus), Jorge Fucile (Porto).

Midfielders: Alvaro Gonzalez (Lazio), Alvaro Pereira (Sao Paulo), Walter Gargano (Parma), Egidio Arevalo Rios (Morelia), Diego Perez (Bologna), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton), Nicolas Lodeiro (Botafogo).

Forwards: Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Edinson Cavani (Paris St-Germain), Abel Hernandez (Palermo), Diego Forlan (Cerezo Osaka), Christian Stuani (Espanyol).

COSTA RICA

Prospects

Arguably the most talented Costa Rica squad ever assembled for a World Cup, they can consider themselves unlucky to have been drawn in Group D. There are several European-based players among a squad that will fight tooth and nail for each other, but will that be enough?

World Cup 2014 team profile: Costa Rica

The loss of first-choice forward Alvaro Saborio, who has scored 32 goals in 93 games for his country, just two weeks before the start of the tournament, plus the absence of Everton full-back Bryan Oviedo, is a huge blow to their chances.

Key player

Goalkeeper Keylor Navas has already reached a half century of caps at the age of 26 and he kept seven clean sheets in 14 qualifying matches. He is now first choice for Levante in Spain's top flight, with bigger clubs taking an interest.

One to watch

Defensive midfielder Yeltsin Tejeda is not just playing for Costa Rica this World Cup, he's also playing for a move, potentially to Europe. Assistant manager Paulo Wanchope, formerly of Manchester City, West Ham and Derby, believes the 21-year-old has a bright future ahead of him.

The boss

It is a second spell in charge for Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto , who was fired during qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. He has given Costa Rica an identity, given them confidence and made them difficult to break down. He has worked hard to make it to a World Cup finals and despite being drawn in a Group of Death will be optimistic of enhancing his reputation, particularly in his native Latin America.

How they qualified

They finished comfortably as runners-up in the final group stage, with their five wins all coming at home. The Ticos also only conceded seven goals in the final phase, fewer than any other team.

World Cup record

They made a winning World Cup debut against Scotland in 1990, going on to reach the last 16. Group exits have followed in 2002 and 2006.

Record v England

The two national teams have never previously met.

Fifa ranking: 28

Squad

Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Levante), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense) Daniel Cambronero (Herediano).

Defenders: Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), Michael Umana (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Bruges), Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew), Dave Myrie (Herediano), Junior Diaz (Mainz 05), Christian Gamboa (Rosenborg), Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls).

Midfielders: Celso Borges (AIK), Christian Bolanos (Copenhagen), Esteban Granados (Herediano), Michael Barrantes (Aalesund), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Diego Calvo (Valerenga), Jose Miguel Cubero (Herediano).

Forwards: Bryan Ruiz (PSV Eindhoven, on loan from Fulham), Joel Campbell (Olympiakos, on loan from Arsenal), Randall Brenes (Cartagines), Marco Urena (FC Kuban Krasnodar).

ENGLAND

Prospects

For once England arrive at a major tournament not weighed down by too much expectation, as the home of football takes the beautiful game to its modern day mecca. What was once perceived as being a free hit for Roy Hodgson and his squad has now turned into the quadrennial romantic notion of "what if?" A tough group will test England, as will the hot and sticky conditions.

Led by Roy Hodgson, the first English coach to lead England in a World Cup for 16 years, there is pressure on the Three Lions to at least continue proud traditions. Only twice before have they failed to make it out the group stage of a World Cup, in 1950 and 1958, the former of which was held in Brazil.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney has scored just one goal for England in a tournament since his breakthrough Euro 2004 campaign

Key player

This will be Wayne Rooney's third World Cup and he admits the previous two have been far from successful. Nonetheless, seven goals in six qualifiers helped him nudge ever closer to Sir Bobby Charlton's England record of 49. England will need him at the top of his game - and to keep his cool - in Brazil.

One to watch

Leighton Baines is under pressure to perform in Brazil having seen off Ashley Cole, England's most-capped full-back, during qualifying but with 18-year-old Luke Shaw waiting in the wings. No one made more assists in qualifying for England than Baines (three) but he can not afford any defensive slips.

The boss

Roy Hodgson, 66, lost just one of his first 22 matches in charge prior to friendly defeats by Chile and Germany. This is the fourth national side he has managed after Switzerland, who he took to the last 16 at the 1994 World Cup, Finland and the United Arab Emirates. England's 13th permanent manager was appointed in May 2012. Hodgson is the first English manager with previous World Cup experience since Sir Bobby Robson in 1990.

How they qualified

England finished their qualifying campaign unbeaten and conceded just four goals. However, they left it to the last game to secure their ticket to Brazil, despite their opposition not being the strongest. Laboured draws against Ukraine, Poland and Montenegro were a tough watch.

World Cup record

Since victory in 1966, England have reached just one semi-final - in 1990. Their capitulation against Germany in 2010 was symptomatic of their struggles when pitted against top-class teams. And don't talk about penalties…

Fifa ranking: 10

Squad

England

Possible starting XI

Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Celtic), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Joe Hart (Manchester City).

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United).

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson (both Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United).

ITALY

Prospects

Cesare Prandelli's Italy know how to make it to the latter stages of tournaments; runners-up at Euro 2012, third-place at the Confederations Cup. TThey might not be seeded but they are certainly contenders.

A possession-based team, Prandelli has selected an array of strikers to win games for him off the bench. The Azzurri's defence is based around Juventus's mean back-line, with the majestic pass-master Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings just in front of them. There is also a smattering of youth for the future.

Key player

Andrea Pirlo is still making Italy tick despite now being 35-years-of-age. Time may be passing but the master passer remains timeless. It is often said that if you stop Pirlo you stop Italy, easier said than done, especially with a team built to protect him. Pirlo (nine) played more in qualifying than any other team-mate. That says it all.

One to watch

AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli, 23, heads to the World Cup as a maturing performer. He inspired Italy to the Euro 2012 final, scoring twice in the semi-final against Germany, and top scored in qualifying with five goals. Balotelli has managed 12 goals in 30 appearances - and Italy have never lost when he has scored.

World Cup 2014 team profile: Italy

The boss

Cesare Prandelli is well respected by all in Italian football. Tactically astute, he has hard-line views on behaviour, both on and off the pitch. However, he has relaxed the rules on social media for the World Cup: "to allow the players maximum freedom to express themselves".

He signed a new two-year contract in March and if he sees out the contract would become the longest-serving Italian coach since Enzo Bearzot (1975-86), the man who led the Azzurri to 1982 World Cup glory. The Italian Football Federation has faith that Prandelli can repeat the feat.

How they qualified

Arguably too easily. Italy qualified with two matches to spare, along with the Netherlands becoming the first European nation to book their place. Prandelli experimented for the final two matches - both games were drawn, crucial ranking points were dropped, and Italy's seeding hopes dashed.  

World Cup record

Italy are four-time world champions (1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006); only Brazil (five wins) have won more. The two-time runnersup have reached eight semi-finals in 19 previous World Cups. However, the Azzurri went home without a win to their name when defending champions four years ago.

Record v England

Italy have taken the spoils when it's mattered most in tournament football, winning their Euro 2012 quarter-final on penalties and the third-place play-off at the 1990 World Cup. The overall record is tight from 24 previous meetings, Italy ahead by nine wins to eight.

Fifa ranking: 9

Squad

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St-Germain), Mattia Perin (Genoa).

Defenders: Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorigo Chiellini (all Juventus), Gabriel Paletta (Parma), Ignazio Abate, Mattia De Sciglio (both AC Milan), Matteo Darmian (Torino).

Midfielders: Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio (both Juventus), Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti (both Paris St-Germain), Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Marco Parolo (Parma), Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli).

Fixtures

14 June 2014

Uruguay v Costa Rica, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 20:00 (ITV)

14 June 2014

England v Italy, Arena Amazonia, Manaus, 23:00 (BBC)

19 June 2014

Uruguay v England , Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 20:00 (ITV)

20 June 2014

Italy v Costa Rica, Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 17:00 (BBC)

24 June 2014

Italy v Uruguay, Arena das Dunas, Natal, 17:00 (ITV)

24 June 2014

Costa Rica v England, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 17:00 (ITV)