England at the 2014 World Cup: How Roy Hodgson's side are viewed in Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica

 

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The Independent Online

England begin their World Cup campaign against Italy in the Manaus jungle tonight, and then take on Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.

So how will each teams fare against Roy Hodgson's side? Those that know best, fan writers from every nation, give us the lowdown.

Italy - Orel Djerbi

Who is your best player?

As in the European Championship two years ago, Italy's performance will largely depend on Mario Balotelli. His consistency during the league season left something to be desired, but he has never disappointed with the national team. As the only member of the Italy squad with the potential to surprise their opponents, Balotelli is definitely the ace up Italy's sleeve. 

Who is England's best player?

After such a disappointing season, I find it difficult to believe that Wayne Rooney will be able to get it together in time for the World Cup. Steven Gerrard, however, will be most likely be playing in his last World Cup at the age of 34. Liverpool might have stumbled at the last hurdle to just miss out on winning the Premier League, but Gerrard could still end his career in the best way possible by being for England and have the same impact Zinedine Zidane had for France in 2006.

What will the score be when you play England?

England vs Italy will be the first game of Group D for both sides and whilst it will probably be the decisive match of the group, I foresee a very boring game ending in a 1-1 draw. Both teams will know that they can't afford to lose and so the emphasis will be more on defending than in creating chances for the strikers.

Who do you think has the best chance of winning the World Cup?

Since this year's World Cup will be held in Brazil, the home team will have a great advantage in their endeavour to lift the World Cup for the sixth time. Whilst the Brazil national team have seen better years, starting as somewhat of an underdog will relieve a bit of pressure and allow them to prepare in the best way possible for the World Cup.  

Which player will win the Golden Boot?

As usual, the winner of the Golden Boot will be the player who was able to make the difference and take their team far in the tournament. Has Lionel Messi been preparing for the World Cup all year? Is Neymar finally ready to step up and become for Brazil what Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi are for their teams? 

If Brazil manage to go far, then it could be Thiago Silva's turn to win the Golden Boot and join the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Matthias Sammer and Fabio Cannavaro in the pantheon of defenders to have won the prestigious title.

Uruguay - Dani Markovits

Who is your best player?

Luis Suarez is without a doubt Uruguay's best footballer. Due to his recent injury, however, Edinson Cavani may become our primary weapon in Brazil and the PSG striker could be one of the biggest revelations of the World Cup. With Suarez and Cavani at their best, Uruguay have the potential to reach at least the semi-finals.

Who is England's best player?

England's biggest problem at the moment, is that they don't have a player who can win games on his own. Wayne Rooney is not the player he was three years ago, while Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are well past their prime. If I had to name one player from the England squad who could make a difference in Brazil, then it would have to be Daniel Sturridge. The young Liverpool striker has the potential to be England's best player in the 2014 World Cup if he carries over his form last season.

What will the score be when you play England?

Uruguay will be facing England in the second game of the group stage and it's a crucial match for both sides. At the moment, I believe that Uruguay have the stronger squad and as a South American nation will be more at ease playing in Brazil than England. If Luis Suarez is fit, then I can see la Celeste beating England 2-1.

Who do you think has the best chance of winning the World Cup?

I don't think that any European team has what it takes to win this World Cup. Germany lack determination and Spain are not what they were four years ago. Italy and France can always surprise, but it seems unlikely this year. Although they don't have the strongest squad, Brazil have the best chance of winning the World Cup. If they can handle the pressure and Neymar fires on all cylinders, then the local side should win their sixth World Cup.

Which players will win the Golden Boot

Since I believe that Brazil will triumph over all, I also see Neymar winning the Golden Boot.

Costa Rica - Eduardo Bent

Who is your best player?

The 12th man will be Costa Rica's best player going into the World Cup as the fans have always been the engine behind the team and it won't be any different in Brazil. Los Ticos will be heard from Fortaleza to Belo Horizonte and beyond.

Who is England's best player?

Wayne Rooney is undoubtedly England's best player and the Manchester United striker is the only one capable of safeguarding English pride in Brazil.

What will the score be when Costa Rica play England?

After seeing England draw against a Honduras side that went down to 10 men, I have no doubt that Costa Rica are capable of performing at the same level and have a good chance of defeating Hodgson's England team. A narrow 1-0 victory for Los Ticos is my prediction. 

Who do you think has the best chance of winning the World Cup?

Brazil have to be favourites as they have a huge advantage playing at home and the entire country is behind them. Despite the social upheaval, I have no doubt that when the chips are down the Brazilian people will back their country until the end.

Which player will win the Golden Boot?

2014 is definitely Lionel Messi's year to shine. With the stage being set in the backyard of Argentina's biggest rival, there will be no greater motivation for Messi to dominate in Brazil.

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