Given the reaction of FA Chairman Greg Dyke following the World Cup draw, which placed England with Italy, Costa Rica and Uruguay, England fans could be forgiven for sensing impending doom.
Dyke’s ‘cut-throat’ gesture to England boss Roy Hodgson appeared to symbolise the camp’s disappointment upon hearing the Group D line-up.
However, now the dust has settled and the situation can be viewed with clear minds, there is every reason to believe the Three Lions can navigate their way beyond the group stage.
While the Central Americans should not be underestimated, victory over Costa Rica should be expected and the jungle heat will give England a fighting chance in the opener against Italy.
However, the game with Uruguay has been pinpointed as crucial to England’s hopes and while the South Americans are 9/5 second favourites to win the group – with England third at 23/10 – history suggests they may not be the force some fear.
In Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani Uruguay possess arguably the deadliest strikeforce in international football.
That said, Cavani is currently a one goal every three games man for his country and while Suarez cannot stop scoring for Liverpool odds of 20/1 on him being the World Cup’s top scorer suggest he may struggle against the top teams.
Key defender Diego Lugano, meanwhile, continues to struggle for current club West Brom, putting in an error-prone display during the Baggies’ recent 2-0 home loss to Norwich.
As winners of the first ever World Cup Uruguay are already assured a place in football’s history, but aside from a fourth place finish in 2010 they have struggled in past tournaments and only progressed further in South Africa following a controversial win over Ghana.
The South Americans are 28/1 to win the cup outright and this is a result of their chequered record, which has seen them progress beyond the group stage just three times in the last 10 competitions.
They failed to qualify for five of those World Cup’s and only made it through to the Brazil finals via a make-or-break playoff against Jordan, following a campaign that saw them win just two of eight qualifiers played on the road.
Recent results will also give England plenty of encouragement, with Russia, Venezuela, Ecuador and 70th-ranked Jordan among those to frustrate Los Charrúas.
So, while they will be more accustomed to playing in the heat of South America, England must go into the competition with every belief that they can succeed.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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