World Cup Memories: 2014 - The 'Group Of Death'

The year is 2014 and Roy Hodgson is preparing for his first World Cup as manager of the England national team. There are genuine hopes that Hodgson can achieve something in Brazil with a settled squad - despite being drawn in a group with 2006 World Champions Italy, 2010 semi-finalists Uruguay and Central American Costa Rica.

Hodgson's final squad of 23 is as follows; Joe Hart, Ben Foster, Fraser Forster, Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Ross Barkley, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Frank Lampard, James Milnes, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling, Jack Wilshere, Rickie Lambert, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck.

With Wayne Rooney ageing and Michael Owen busy advertising helicopters in Dubai, the nation opts to pin it's hopes and ambitions on Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling. The scintillating Sterling looks to be England's secret weapon after a terrific season for his club side Liverpool.

Within minutes of the opening game the nation's hopes looked to have been well-placed when Sterling picks up the ball, runs at the Italians and unleashes a ferocious shot into the top corner. The commentators scream in excitement and the 'GOAL' icon flashes up on the screen.

The only problem was that the ball didn't actually go in, it hit the side netting and the score stayed at 0-0. Unfortunately for England, that was one of the few highlights of the tournament.

Italy took the lead when Claudio Marchisio fired past Joe Hart after a neat corner routine, and Daniel Sturridge's equaliser shortly after counted for nothing when Mario Balotelli scored the winning goal in the 50th-minute.

Defeat in the opening game wasn't disastrous, but it did mean that the country's hopes and dreams rested on gaining a positive result against Uruguay in the second group game.

Things didn't start well for the Three Lions as a Luis Suarez header put the Uruguayans 1-0 up in the first-half and put England on the brink of World Cup elimination. That was until Wayne Rooney stepped up and scored his first Three Lions World Cup goal.

Suddenly there was a sense of trepidation in the England squad: would a draw be enough? Should they go for the win?

Luckily for them, the choice was taken out of their hands when a hopeful long ball found Luis Suarez, who emphatically rifled the ball into the net. 2-1 to Uruguay and England were heading out of the tournament bar a minor miracle.

Roy Hodgson's team pushed and pressed but were unable to threaten the Uruguayan goal or find a way around some rather blatant time-wasting. As the final whistle blew England's players slumped to the ground, knowing that they were almost guaranteed to be returning home early.

The tournament ended with a terribly dull 0-0 draw against Costa Rica which only served to highlight the abject failure of Roy Hodgson and his players. Incredibly, Hodgson retained his job and vowed to improve England's performances at Euro 2016. We all remember how that went don't we?

Join us tomorrow when we'll be looking back at a marginally more successful tournament for England, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Don't worry, it's all glory and success after that one.....

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