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

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06:  Wayne Rooney of England (R) celebrates with team-mate Jack Wilshere of England after he scores the opening goal during the International friendly between England and Brazil at Wembley Stadium on February 6, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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 TeamFIFA Ranking
Uruguay6
Costa Rica31
England13
Italy7
FIFA
England Fixtures
DateTimeOpponent
June 14 (June 15 BST)23:00 BST/18:00 ETItaly
June 1920:00 BST/15:00 ETUruguay
June 2417:00 BST/12:00 ETCosta Rica
FIFA

 

England Squad Prediction

England 23-Man Roster Projection
PositionPlayerClub
GoalkeeperJoe HartManchester City
GoalkeeperFraser ForsterCeltic
GoalkeeperJack ButlandStoke City
DefenderAshley ColeChelsea
DefenderGary CahillChelsea
DefenderLeighton BainesEverton
DefenderPhil JagielkaEverton
DefenderGlen JohnsonLiverpool
DefenderKyle WalkerTottenham
DefenderChris SmallingManchester United
DefenderPhil JonesManchester United
MidfielderSteven GerrardLiverpool
MidfielderTheo Walcott Arsenal
MidfielderJack Wilshere Arsenal
MidfielderFrank LampardChelsea
MidfielderMichael CarrickManchester United
MidfielderAndros TownsendTottenham
MidfielderRoss BarkleyEverton
MidfielderJames MilnerManchester City
ForwardWayne RooneyManchester United
ForwardDaniel SturridgeLiverpool
ForwardDanny WelbeckManchester United
ForwardJermain DefoeTottenham
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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15:  Joe Hart of England celebrates as Steven Gerrard of England scores their second goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group H match between England and Poland at Wembley Stadium on October 15, 2013 in London, Englan
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.

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.