Roy Hodgson
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Tough World Cup draw might be blessing in disguise for England

| 07.12.2013

England management, players and fans received a punch in the guts when their team were drawn alongside Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica in the World Cup draw on Friday.

It’s not quite a ‘Group of Death’, but it’s fair to say Roy Hodgson will have been hoping for something a little easier than being thrown in against two sides with wonderful World Cup pedigrees and still major forces in International football (ranked sixth and seventh by FIFA).

Coral have reacted by pushing England out a touch to 28/1 from 25/1, while the odds of them being knocked out in the Group stage have shortened to 13/10. They are also priced at 2/1 to win Group D behind Italy (13/8) and Uruguay (7/4), which suggests they will just miss out.

That’s a fair and understandable reaction. Uruguay, with Luis Suarez leading the line, may have made hard work of qualifying, but they are a very decent side and playing in their own back yard, so to speak, which counts for a lot.

This Italy side isn’t as strong as some in the past, but again, they are a talented unit, at least England’s equal on paper, and will not be easily beaten.

But maybe this is a better draw than it first appears. England haven’t been matched with sides they have little or no chance of beating and at least they are going into a major tournament without unrealistic expectations weighing them down.

Yes, it will be hard, especially in the heat and humidity of Manaus, where they open their campaign against Italy on June 15th. But by no means impossible. Later on, when the likes of hosts Brazil (3/1), Argentina (5/1), Germany (6/1) and reigning champions Spain (7/1) stand in the way; that’s when it becomes properly difficult.

Both Italy and Uruguay should be treated with respect, but not fear. On the other side of that coin, though, it is to be hoped that they don’t take Costa Rica for granted, either. They are the 33/1 outsiders in the group and have seemingly been written off already, but England have slipped up before against worse sides than the Central American outfit, ranked 31 in the world by FIFA.

This is far too early to be getting depressed. Looking on the bright side, England will qualify (8/15 with Coral) and then go on to reach the quarter-finals (4/1), scoring, say, six goals along the way (11/5).

Keep the dream alive!.





Jon Freeman