England World Cup 2014 Roster: Squad Info and Group-Stage Predictions

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2014

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - MAY 27:  Phil Jagielka and Jack Wilshere share a joke during a training session at St Georges Park on May 27, 2014 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

This could potentially be a transformative World Cup for English soccer. Drawn into a brutal group and traveling with a younger, fairly inexperienced roster on the international stage, this year's tournament in Brazil could be brutal for the Three Lions.

But it could also be the beginning of a new, promising generation, and one that exceeds what will surely be tempered expectations. 

There are experienced players, yes, as Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Glen Johnson, among others, make the trip. But it will be the performances of the younger players—Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Jack Wilshere—and the less experienced ones, like Adam Lallana, that could make all of the difference.

Facing a group that includes Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica, the English face a gauntlet. Let's take a look at their roster and break down their chances of surviving Group D.

 

Roster

England's World Cup 2014 Squad
PositionPlayerClub
GKJoe HartManchester City
GKBen FosterWest Brom
GKFraser ForsterCeltic
DFGlen JohnsonLiverpool
DFPhil JagielkaEverton
DFGary CahillChelsea
DFPhil JonesManchester United
DFChris SmallingManchester United
DFLeighton BainesEverton
DFLuke ShawSouthampton
MFSteven GerrardLiverpool
MFJack WilshereArsenal
MFJordan HendersonLiverpool
MFFrank LampardChelsea
MFJames MilnerManchester City
MFRaheem SterlingLiverpool
MFAlex Oxlade-ChamberlainArsenal
MFAdam LallanaSouthampton
MFRoss BarkleyEverton
ATTWayne RooneyManchester United
ATTDaniel SturridgeLiverpool
ATTDanny WelbeckManchester United
ATTRickie LambertSouthampton
The FA
England stand-by options
PositionPlayerClub
GKJohn RuddyNorwich
DFJohn StonesEverton
DFJon FlanaganLiverpool
MFMichael CarrickManchester United
MFTom CleverleyManchester United
ATTAndy CarrollWest Ham
ATTJermain DefoeToronto
The FA

 

Group D Analysis

VALE DO LOBO, ALGARVE, PORTUGAL - MAY 21:  Jack Wilshere in action during a training session at the England pre-World Cup Training Camp at the Vale Do Lobo Resort on May 21, 2014 in Vale Do Lobo, Algarve, Portugal.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Image
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

If you think the English players are particularly bothered by the group they drew, think again. Arsenal's Wilshere certainly wasn't fazed in December:

There might be a bit of hubris tucked in there, but the overriding principle is true—at some point at the World Cup, you're going to face elite competition. If that competition is staring you down in the group phase, so be it.

A lot of this group may also be decided by an injury, as Uruguay's Luis Suarez—and the Premier League's leading scorer this past season—had surgery on his knee in late May and remains an unknown for this year's tournament. Even if he plays, will he be at 100 percent?

Uruguay is no one-man team—they have the luxury of building the attack around Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani if Suarez can't go—but losing the electrifying Suarez would make their odds of advancing from this group a lot longer. 

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: Steven Gerrard (L) of Liverpool and team mate Luis Suarez look dejected after the opening goal by Oscar of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on April 21, 2013 in Liverp
Michael Regan/Getty Images

His team-mate at Liverpool, Gerrard, wasn't afraid to tell Sky Sports he's hoping Suarez will be out of action when Uruguay faces England on June 19:

From a really selfish point of view it would really help England if he was not available, of course it would. I know him personally and I wish him well. I just hope he's fit as soon as possible and certainly for when we go back with Liverpool.

Facing Italy is no easy task either. The Italians were the Euro 2012 runners-up and feature a sturdy, solid spine and a habit of playing well at major tournaments, outside of 2010's shocking group-stage exit.

Led by talisman Andrea Pirlo in the midfield—and always far more dangerous when fiery forward Mario Balotelli is at his finest—Italy are capable of both winning this group and making a deep run in the tournament.

Roy Hodgson had already begun putting together an in-depth scouting report for Italy in late May to prepare his squad, per Daniel Taylor of The Guardian:

[Hodgson] wants his players to operate with a quick pressing style in midfield but is also mindful that the heat and humidity in Manaus mean they cannot exert too much energy. If Italy have the ball in defence his players will not be under instructions to chase it down automatically. The emphasis will be on being more forceful, and restricting space, once the play moves towards the centre of the pitch.

[Football Association performance-analysis manager Andy] Scoulding and his two assistants have also put together individual footage of all the Italy players, to be distributed closer to the game. Joe Hart, for example, will receive his own DVD to study Mario Balotelli’s penalty-taking. For now, however, the emphasis is on the shape of England’s team.

Discipline against Italy is always of the utmost importance, as the Italians keep their shape, play excellent defense and can quickly strike on the counter. They are also quite proficient on set pieces, so the Three Lions will need to limit the number of corners they concede.

As for Costa Rica, underestimating them would be a mistake, but expecting anything less than a victory for England would be foolish. The English should win that match without much difficulty, though, of course, nothing is guaranteed at a World Cup.

 

Prediction

The fact that Uruguay could sit Suarez for their first game against Costa Rica and give him more time to rest until they face England on June 19 means the Three Lions will likely face both Italy and Uruguay at full strength. That will be trouble for England, and they'll have a hard time taking any points in those matchups.

England won't lose both of their opening games, but they'll likely only earn a draw against one of those teams while losing the other match. If England can get to four points, they'll have a real chance at advancing, and it also wouldn't be shocking if Italy, Uruguay and England all finished at the five-point mark.

That's probably England's best chance at advancing.

But it's just as possible they'll open with losses to Italy and Uruguay, the former a deeper squad and the latter a dangerous attacking unit that will be tough to beat on South American soil.

England will compete, but they won't advance out of Group D.