World Cup Preview: Group D. Unpicking the head versus heart dilemma – Tony Snow tackles the unenviable task of judging England objectively.
Understandably more column inches will be devoted to this group than any other in the British media, but if devotees of the Three Lions feel compelled to follow heart over head by backing England to beat Uruguay and Italy then I urge you temper patriotism and blind optimism with a slice of pragmatism.
At the very least back England for draws against these two sides. Two draws and a win against outsiders Costa Rica in the final group game would most probably be enough to see England through – and perhaps coach Roy Hodgson shares that view.
Whoever gets through from this group, it will mean the demise of at least one former winner from a group that features three.
Uruguay’s presence in the World Cup will always warrant special mention. They were the first ever winners back in 1930, but it was their subsequent victory in 1950 when they shattered the hopes of the Brazilian nation its own backyard that earned them a place in folklore. Their current team is built around the offensive strength of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
There is far more to Italy these days than the defensive behemoth of days gone by. The current side strikes far greater balance between attack and defence with a style is based around patience, ball retention and penetration at the right moment. With Costa Rica likely to make up the numbers in Group D, the key to progressing will be which teams avoid defeat against each other.
By Tony Snow