World Cup preview: Group D rundown

World Cup preview: Group D rundown
England leaves the field as the match is stopped due to a thunderstorm warning in the first half against Honduras during a friendly in preparation for the World Cup. (Pedro Portal / MCT)

A look at the teams competing in Group D at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil:





FIFA World ranking: 28.

Last World Cup: 2006.

Best World Cup finish: Round of 16 (1990).

How qualified: CONCACAF runner-up.

It's a fact: Costa Rica is the only Central American nation to win a World Cup game.

The skinny: Costa Rica has little chance of surviving this group, especially now that Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio, who led the team in scoring during qualifying, is out with a broken bone in his foot. That blow has been cushioned somewhat by the recent form of Joel Campbell, who scored eight times in 32 games with Greek club Olympiacos. Bryan Ruiz, the team's most creative player, will be responsible for getting the ball to Campbell. At the other end, keeper Keylor Navas is coming off a breakout season at Levante in Spain.


FIFA World ranking: 10.

Last World Cup: 2010.

Best World Cup finish: Champion (1966).

How qualified: UEFA Group H winner.

It's a fact: England played in history's first official international soccer game, in Scotland, in 1872. Naturally, neither team scored.


The skinny: Brazil's climate has been worrisome for the English, who began training camp working out in three layers of clothing to simulate South America's heat and humidity. But if England goes out early it won't have the weather to blame. It has a rather uninspiring roster with only one true world-class player in Wayne Rooney. However if Daniel Sturridge scores as he did with Liverpool this season and if Jack Wilshere and teenager Raheem Sterling play up to their potential, England could surprise. In goal, Manchester City's Joe Hart is solid –- which is good, because he may also be busy.


FIFA World ranking: 9.

Last World Cup: 2010.

Best World Cup finish: Four-time champion (1934, '38, '82, 2006).

How qualified: UEFA Group B winner.

It's a fact: Midfielder Daniele De Rossi has a "beware of being tackled" tattoo on his right calf. Set in a yellow triangle, it pictures a stick man sliding in to win the ball from another.

The skinny: Italy rolled unbeaten through UEFA qualifying but it's not taking the same team to Brazil, leaving home players responsible for nine of its 19 goals in those 10 qualifiers. But Coach Cesare Prandelli is taking Mario Balotelli, who can take over a tournament, as he did in the 2012 Euros when he carried Italy to the final. New Jersey-born striker Giuseppe Rossi, Florentina's top scorer with 16 goals, was among the final cuts, as he was four years ago. Milan midfielder Riccardo Montolivo was also left out after suffering a broken leg in Saturday's friendly with Ireland.


FIFA World ranking: 7.

Last World Cup: 2010.

Best World Cup finish: Two-time champions (1930, 1950).

How qualified: Beat Jordan in intercontinental playoff.

It's a fact: Two-time champion Uruguay, with a population of 3.4 million people — and about 14 million head of cattle — is the smallest country to win a World Cup.

The skinny: The most important race any Uruguayan will run this year will take place not on the field but in the training room, where Luis Suarez is in a battle against the clock to come back from knee surgery. But though Uruguay is the favorite in a group that includes three former champions, it faces a tough road. Two of those teams — Italy and England — are European and in the 2010 World Cup Uruguay did not beat a European opponent. The same thing happened at the Confederations Cup two years ago, when Uruguay lost to Italy and Spain.


June 14: Uruguay vs. Costa Rica at Fortaleza; England vs. Italy at Manaus.

June 19: Uruguay vs. England at Sao Paulo.

June 20: Italy vs. Costa Rica at Recife.

June 24: Italy vs. Uruguay at Natal; Costa Rica vs. England at Belo Horizonte.