England World Cup Draw 2014: Group, Fixtures and Squad Predictions

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England World Cup Draw 2014: Group, Fixtures and Squad Predictions
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

England, who will enter the 2014 World Cup among the second tier of contenders, now know the path they must take through the group stage.

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report
Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report

The nation's only World Cup triumph came on home soil in 1966. Four years ago, England were eliminated in the Round of 16 by Germany. It marked the fifth straight cycle in which the Three Lions failed to advance beyond the quarterfinals.

Next summer, the top contenders will include host nation Brazil, reigning champions Spain, Germany and Argentina. England are in the next group of contenders with teams like Belgium, Italy, France and Portugal, among others. A couple of breaks will have to go their way to make a run to the final, particularly after they were handed a tough group stage draw.

With that in mind, let's examine all of the group details and take an early look at how the England squad might look for Roy Hodgson once the tournament kicks off.

Group Information

Group Breakdown
National Team FIFA Ranking
Uruguay 6
Costa Rica 31
England 13
Italy 7


England Fixtures
Date Time Opponent
June 14 (June 15 BST) 23:00 BST/18:00 ET Italy
June 19 20:00 BST/15:00 ET Uruguay
June 24 17:00 BST/12:00 ET Costa Rica


England Squad Prediction

England 23-Man Roster Projection
Position Player Club
Goalkeeper Joe Hart Manchester City
Goalkeeper Fraser Forster Celtic
Goalkeeper Jack Butland Stoke City
Defender Ashley Cole Chelsea
Defender Gary Cahill Chelsea
Defender Leighton Baines Everton
Defender Phil Jagielka Everton
Defender Glen Johnson Liverpool
Defender Kyle Walker Tottenham
Defender Chris Smalling Manchester United
Defender Phil Jones Manchester United
Midfielder Steven Gerrard Liverpool
Midfielder Theo Walcott Arsenal
Midfielder Jack Wilshere Arsenal
Midfielder Frank Lampard Chelsea
Midfielder Michael Carrick Manchester United
Midfielder Andros Townsend Tottenham
Midfielder Ross Barkley Everton
Midfielder James Milner Manchester City
Forward Wayne Rooney Manchester United
Forward Daniel Sturridge Liverpool
Forward Danny Welbeck Manchester United
Forward Jermain Defoe Tottenham

World Cup Prediction

Perhaps the biggest key to the England squad coming together and making a deep run is Joe Hart. The Manchester City goalkeeper has endured a major drop in form and must rebound, if England want to avoid their keeper problems from the last World Cup.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The back line is pretty straightforward. Hodgson has a strong mix of veterans with big-match experience and younger players on the rise, which should allow the squad to overcome any injuries that may arise leading up to or during the tournament. Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill will likely be the starting back four.

In terms of defenders on the fringe of the squad, Michael Dawson of Tottenham and Steven Caulker of Cardiff City are both on the radar but would need to display terrific form to jump over a fellow defender. An X-factor could be Micah Richards, depending on his ability to play at the club level.

There will probably be two main debates in the midfield. The first one is between Frank Lampard and Tom Cleverley for one of the central spots in the squad, and the second is James Milner and another option for the wing, potentially an in-form Adam Lallana or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Steven Gerrard and Michael Carrick would be favourites to govern the central midfield areas, while Andros Townsend is currently the form man out wide.

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Lampard will likely travel to Brazil because of his experience and the fact he can still play at a high level at the age of 35 (he'll be 36 in June). Milner will also likely receive a selection based on Hodgson's loyalty to the Manchester City midfielder so far during his tenure as England manager.

Finally, three of the four decisions up front are virtual locks, barring injury. Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck are all likely heading to Brazil as long as they are healthy when it comes time to name the final roster.

That leaves one spot for another striker. Jermain Defoe, Rickie Lambert and Andy Carroll are the three players most likely to fill the void. Wilfried Zaha and Jay Rodriguez could also be options depending on their form. Ultimately, Defoe's international track record will probably win out.  

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