Daily Cup Check: Previewing Group D
OTF contributor Sam Fels is going group by group with his beer goggles to set you up for this summer of footy fun and love…
Let’s take the thrills that we spill and crack our back over to Group D.
Group D: Uruguay, England, Italy, Costa Rica
It’s too easy to say it all rides on Luis Suarez’s health. Because whether he’s healthy or not it doesn’t really help who’s going to partner Godin in defense, which is the problem. It’s going to start with captain Diego Lugano, but he was creaking pretty loudly with West Brom this year. You worry about quicker strikers in the knockout rounds, though dealing with the rotund Wayne Rooney and figuring out whether Balotelli can even be bothered in this group should be ok.
Up top, obviously Suarez and Cavani would scare the shit out of everyone, if Suarez is a full go. Suarez can sometimes just will the ball in, and he’s only in the form of his life. If Forlan can roll back the years for three-four weeks, this team is your best dark horse candidate to take the whole thing. But that’s asking a lot it would seem. The strikers alone get this team to the quarters at least, though.
There was a time when I was a rabid England fan. I was in the stadium in both Lisbon and Gelsenkirchen when they went out to Portugal on penalties. But that’s faded over time, mostly because under McLaren they were unwatchable, Capello wasn’t much better, but mostly it was the kind of hideous way the media treats the team and especially its coaches. Ending up with Roy Hodgson, after living through that Liverpool experience, didn’t exactly perk up my spirits at first. They were resolute if nothing else in Euro 2012 but hardly easier on the eye. Watching England win is basically soccer whiskey dick.
But this team? There’s something more here. Finally most of the old guard has been pushed out. Really only Gerrard remains. And with Henderson, Lallana, Sturridge, Sterling, Barkley, and a couple others, there are some tasty young players if Hodgson has the balls to unleash them (spoiler: he doesn’t). England might not be that good, they might not even get out of this group, but they’ll be way more fun to watch and pretty poised to do something more in France for Euro ’16. Even the “Golden Generation” was an absolute bore under Sven Goran Knees And Toes. So that’s something?
Seems I’ve heard everything about Italy. They could be sneaky good. They’re at their best when you don’t expect anything. They’re shit and old and all the players that make Juventus the only team that matters there aren’t Italian. I remember when I first got into the sport Serie A was appointment television. It was always on FSC on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. And then they started changing the start times and you couldn’t find it live under the Premier League or La Liga and it kind of just faded into Bolivia.
What we can say about the Azzurri is that the midfield troika of Pirlo, De Rossi, and Veratti is utterly terrifying. I don’t know how Pirlo keeps doing it, but he does. And though I’m still a little bitter about the 2007 Champions League Final, I can hardly blame a guy for pinging a ball as hard as he can at Pippo Inzaghi’s face. I think the goal was only an accidental byproduct. Balotelli could be a dominating force or he could have a sex-change at half-time, or anything in between. But if Balotelli doesn’t score, they look a little short on scoring. The defense will be stout, because Italy. Everything hinges on their opening game with England in the jungle, where both teams will probably collapse and Costa Rica will be declared the 2nd place team.
Well if they got to play these teams at home, they’d be formidable. On the other side, they won’t have to play anyone in the snow, which is good because they’re still bitching about the last time. They’ve lost their top striker too injury, so look for them to just bunker in and make teams come through them. You could actually see them taking a point off England for no reason other than to send the British press into orbit. The italians might have too much guile for them. Won’t embarrass themselves, but won’t get more than three games either.
I couldn’t think of anything for Costa Rica. Honest.
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