England face a tough test of their World Cup credentials in the group stage, with testing encounters in the offing against Uruguay and Italy.
The Three Lions are 23/10 to finish top of Group D while odds of 8/13 are being offered by Ladbrokes on those keen to simply back Roy Hodgson’s team to qualify.
But while we are all well aware of how our squad is shaping up for the Brazil, what of our opponents? News.Ladbrokes takes a look at Italy, Costa Rica and Uruguay.
Italy – 6/4 to win Group D and 2/5 to qualify for the second round
The biggest threat to England’s chances and the team they will play first in the group stage, Italy are in relatively good shape, with secret weapon Ciro Immobile continuing to impress with another goal for Torino at the weekend.
Elsewhere, Daniele De Rossi put in a solid performance for Roma in their 2-0 Friday night win over Milan, who had no place for Azzurri right-back Ignacio Abate in the starting line-up.
Pepe Rossi has yet to return for Fiorentina though, while Mario Balotelli was poor for the Rossoneri in Rome and ended up generating more headlines for a brief spat with Italian football pundits Zvonimir Boban and Giancarlo Marocchi.
England are 11/5 to beat Italy with the Azzurri on at 7/5 and the draw on at 2/1.
Uruguay – 9/5 to win Group D and 1/2 to qualify for the second round
Newly crowned PFA Player of the Year Luis Suarez may have been kept quiet by Chelsea in the Premier League but there were no such problems for compatriot and Paris Saint-Germain star Edinson Cavani who found the net in the French club’s 1-1 draw with Sochaux.
Elsewhere, there was better news for national keeper Fernando Muslera, who kept a clean sheet for Galatasaray on the road against Elazigspor. It represented something of a reprieve for the Uruguayan, after shipping eight goals over the course of three league games.
Defender Diego Godin also maintained his excellent club form with Atletico Madrid, who extended their winning run in La Liga to nine games.
England are 9/5 to beat the South Americans who can be backed at 6/4 for a win against the Three Lions with the draw priced at 11/5.
Costa Rica – 28/1 to win Group D and 9/1 to qualify for the second round
With the season over in Greece, Joel Campbell was out of action for Olympiakos however key Costa Rica defender Oscar Duarte played a crucial role for Club Brugge in the Belgian league play-offs, featuring for the entirety of their 3-1 away win over Lokeren.
Fulham flop Bryan Ruiz was also back among the goals in the nick of time for the national team, scoring the winner for PSV Eindhoven in a commendable 2-1 win away over PEC Zwolle in the Eredivisie.
Roy Hodgson’s team are 9/20 favourites for victory over Costa Rica, with the Central American nation 6/1 and a draw available at 10/3.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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