England discover their group opponents for Russia

Posted Декабря 03, 2017

Gareth Southgate has reacted to England's World Cup draw, telling talkSPORT underestimating any teams in their group would be a mistake.

At around 3pm today Gary Lineker will either celebrate a favourable World Cup draw for England or look on in anguish as we prepare to face Brazil or Argentina in next year's tournament.

Belgium, England, Tunisia and Panama were drawn together in Group G at Friday's ceremony in the Kremlin, with the Belgians the top seeds.

"Belgium will be favourites even to win the World Cup, but it is the flawless game to see how good this English team is".

Belgium have beaten England only once in 21 meetings - back in 1936 - but the side that boasts Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku is a fearsome beast.

England's World Cup fixtures and dates
England's World Cup fixtures and dates

In the wide-ranging interview, Southgate dismissed any concerns over potential long-distance travelling his squad may face arguing that his England players were well versed with the demands of major competitions, with numerous squad making regular visits to European counterparts during the season.

Belgium's best World Cup finish came in 1986 when they finished fourth, and Martinez believes this sets them as outsiders for the Jules Rimet trophy. Panama scored just nine goals in their final 10 qualifiers; their threat does not lie in their attacking play.

The practice draw finished with England drawing Japan, arguably one of the stiffest sides in Pot 4. The question for Southgate is whether he goes with inexperience in the shape of Reuben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chalobah and Harry Winks, or plays safe by handing global reprieves to Chris Smalling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Daniel Sturridge and even Theo Walcott. Dier is a certainty for the defensive midfield role while going forward, Adam Lallana, Sterling, Kane, Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli give England genuine attacking threat. "We want to go to the World Cup to enjoy our football and to enjoy the responsibility of having such a strong generation".

Question marks remain over England's ability to dictate a game from midfield and keep possession against the stronger teams but nobody is realistically expecting them to win the competition.