Globe and Mail sports columnist Cathal Kelly will be covering the World Cup in Brazil. Here is his look at who to watch and what to expect in Group D.
A team traditionally renowned for compelling brutality, Uruguay now features the best forward tandem in the world – Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and PSG’s Edinson Cavani. An experienced, nuanced and tightly knit squad, they are also aging. This is their last chance to capitalize on a golden generation. And they know it.
A bright and attractive side of overachievers, Costa Rica is unlucky to have been drawn in this group. They have no chance, which may be perversely freeing. Even one win here would constitute a step forward for the national program.
It’s hard to shed the comforting stereotype of the Italy that would back ten men into its own goalmouth and sneer you into surrender. This new Italy is positively Teutonic in its emphasis on quick forward movement and selfless interplay. One hopes they do well, only because this behaviour deserves encouraging.
Despite the country’s Herculean capacity for self-delusion, even England don’t believe this time around. First, they draw an opener in the crushing humidity of the Amazon jungle. That should send them all to their fainting couches. Then they have to get by Uruguay and Italy, two teams that are simply better. I hope the English team enjoys Brazil. They may have to hide there for a while.
Player to Watch: Wayne Rooney, England
The most over-observed, over-hyped and obsessively festishized player of his generation, and all just because of the country he plays for. At 28 years old, with his speed game fading, this is Rooney’s last chance. If it blows up – and it will – prepare for a Gascoignesque meltdown.
Game to Watch: Italy vs. England, June 14th
In the quarters of Euro 2012, England spent 120 minutes ducking and weaving. Italy battered them steadily, and justly took it in penalties. One wonders if England is still afraid. And if not, are they willing to be manhandled by a more cultured side?
Predicted Order of Finish: Uruguay, Italy, England, Costa Rica