It was never going to be easy was it?
It was never going to be easy was it? As low ranked as England were heading into the 2014 World Cup draw last Friday, it would have taken a huge stroke of luck to avoid any of the big guns in the group stages. Luck, surprisingly wasn’t on our side with England handed their Euro 2012 conquerors Italy, Uruguay, and Costa Rica.
So here’s a look at the key players England will have to contend with in Brazil in order to progress into the next round:
The player England will know most about, too much for their liking perhaps. The Liverpool striker has been in red hot form this season after missing the opening five games with suspension; already scoring 13 including a stunning four goal haul against Norwich at Anfield. Roy Hodgson will be hoping Suarez’s form dips towards the end of the season as they prepare to face the top scorer in the South American World Cup qualifiers that included the likes of Neymar and Lionel Messi.
One of the most sought out strikers in this year’s summer transfer window; Cavani has failed to get out of Paris Saint-Germain teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shadow. Nevertheless, Cavani has scored 11 goals for his new French club and always proves to be a threat for any team. He will without doubt be a handful for the England defence.
At 34 it would be easy to assume that Diego Forlan is past his best. However, with 36 goals for his country, and 10 in 24 for his new Brazilian side Internacional, the former Manchester United striker is proving that he’s still a force to be reckoned with. It remains to be seen whether he would get in the side ahead of Suarez or Cavani but if selected, he is a player very much capable of causing damage to England’s World Cup hopes.
Mario Balotelli will forever be remembered in England more for his off field antics than on. Yet, in the blink of eye, Balotelli is capable of producing moments of magic just like he did against Germany in the 2012 Euro’s. Although not in the best of form for his current side AC Milan, Balotelli has always done well for his country with his performance at the 2013 Confederations Cup a worthy highlight. One the Manchester City players will know too well, Balotelli will be itching to cause headlines in England once again.
The legend that is Andrea Pirlo. The image of Pirlo tormenting the England midfield will still be clear to Roy Hodgson and is one he will definitely need to address once the two sides face off in the group opener. Pirlo, whose Juventus side find themselves currently at the top of the Serie A table, is famous for his fantastic set pieces and is something that England will have to take into consideration if they are to start their World Cup campaign with a win.
Daniele De Rossi
A man who many thought was going to make the switch to the Premier League when David Moyes came calling twice. De Rossi instead turned the advances of Manchester United to stay at A.S. Roma and become an integral part of the Giallorossi’s push for the Serie A title, which sees them three points behind leaders Juventus. 15 goals already for his country, De Rossi was another standout performer in the Euro 2012 meeting between England and Italy.
The Everton Left-back who has shone in place for the injured England left-back Leighton Baines. Oviedo has already scored twice in the Premier League this season for the Toffees including a last gasp winner at Old Trafford against Manchester United. A full back who loves nothing more than to bomb forward, England’s right hand side pairing will have to be fully focused to stop Oviedo in his tracks.
A player Arsenal fans have been waiting to see for almost three years, Campbell has failed to represent the Gunners due to work permit issues. The Costa Rican striker has spent time on loan in Spain and has found himself a key member of Greek giants Olympiacos with their Champions League push as well as their surge to another Greek Super League title. With five goals and many more assists already this season, Arsenal fans will now get a front row view of the player Arsene Wenger claimed has a massive future at the Emirates.
The current top-scorer of the Costa Rican team, Borges plies his trade with Swedish side AIK. 14 goals for Costa Rica from midfield, maestro Borges will prove to be a stern test to an England midfield that Roy Hodgson is yet to put his finger on.
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