The beginning of 2014 means preparing for the World Cup. England is in Group D with Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Italy.
It is not expected to be an easy group for the English taking into account the countries in the group. While there has been talk about a Group of Death scenario for the English in the press, its coach Roy Hodgson had a different viewpoint.
In an interview with the BBC, he does not over nor underestimates his Group opponents. Mr. Hodgson talked about mental strength and the players in the atmosphere of Brazil during the World Cup.
Can England surprise the world with a possible win? A review of the countries is needed to arrive at a conclusion.
England is currently ranked number 13 with 1041 points in the FIFA Coca Cola Ranking. It last hosted a World Cup in 1966 and was close to hosting another one in 2018.
Instead, Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup leaving England deceived once again. England qualified for the present World Cup after a convincing victory against Montenegro and Poland.
Hodgson is not leaving anything to chance as he selects his squad for Brazil according to an article published in The Guardian. He is not commenting on who would be selected and has made visits to Brazil.
England will play its first Group match against a powerful Italy in Manaus on June 14, 2014. This will be followed by matches against Uruguay and Costa Rica.
The match against Uruguay will be on June 19 in Sao Paulo followed by Costa Rica on June 26 at Belo Horizonte. One possible player that may be in the squad is Theo Walcott of Arsenal taking into accounts his age and participation in previous World Cups.
Italy and Mario Balotelli
Italy is the strongest opponent for England in Group D with the presence of Mario Balotelli. The Italian Forward is very dangerous when it comes to the field in spite of the comments about his private life.
According to ESPN-FC, Balotelli managed to score six goals within 12 matches for AC Milan during the 2013/14 Serie A. In addition, he managed three assists with 76 shots during the same period.
These statistics pale in comparison to his overall achievements in the same period within Serie A, World Cup Qualifiers, UEFA Champions League, and other events. The overall picture for Balotelli is the following: 27 games started, five used as a substitute, 14 goals scored within matches, five assists, and 153 shots.
Italy remains a powerhouse even without Balotelli as number seven with 1120 points in the FIFA Coca Cola Ranking.
While England may be tempted to view Costa Rica as the weakest link in Group D, the opposite exists. Costa Rica enlisted the services of veteran coach and player Bora Milutinovic.
Multinovic expressed his doubts about England's ability to survive in the Amazons according to an article published at ESPN-FC. Carlos Costly is a player that deserves extra attention in these matches.
Uruguay won the 1950 World Cup and there are powerful players such as Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. The South American country is currently in sixth place with 1132 points within the FIFA Coca Cola Ranking.
Cavani [according to ESPN-FC] scored 12 goals and has 50 shots within 17 matches in the 2013/14 La Ligue. Suarez managed 20 goals, five assists, and 88 shots within 15 matches for the 2013/14 EPL season.
Italy and Uruguay are expected to advance from their Group to the next round of the World Cup. England is unable to resist the pressure of the Amazonian jungle and Mario Balotelli.
These predictions are based on a personal opinion and may/may not become a reality.