ENGLAND | ITALY | URUGUAY | COSTA RICA
Nickname: The Tree Lions
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Captain: Steven Gerrard
FIFA ranking: 11
Roy’s squad is buzzing with energy, pace and youthfulness – and it’s this dynamism that could blow away the aging legs of the Italians and the Uruguayans.
England ALWAYS struggle in hot and humid conditions – and that’s exactly what they’ll face in Brazil’s tropical climate.
Wayne Rooney, age 28: This is Rooney’s fifth appearance at a major international tournament – he may still be waiting for his first World Cup goal, but his club form means he’s still the England player most feared throughout the world.
2014 squad lowdown
Most capped: Steven Gerrard, 109 caps
Top scorer: Wayne Rooney, 38 goals
Most represented club: Liverpool, 5 players
Likely formation: 4-3-3
Formation: 4-4-2 (3-4-1-2)
Playing style: Counter-attack
Strengths: Scoring from set-pieces
Weaknesses: Defending against pace
Star man: Superstar striker Luis Suarez – they need him fit or it’s game over
Formation: 4-3-3 (4-3-1-2, 4-3-2-1)
Playing style: Possession
Strengths: Organisation and tactical awareness
Weaknesses: Lack of pace in midfield
Star man: Midfield legend Andrea Pirlo – the key to their passing game
Formation: 5-4-1 (3-6-1)
Playing style: Defensive
Strengths: Playing neat and tidy football
Weaknesses: Keeping clean sheets
Star man: Levante keeper Keylor Navas – an incredibly athletic shot-stopper
For loads more World Cup gossip, exclusive interviews and expert predictions get this week’s Match of the Day magazine, in all good newsagents.