Dire straits for England in group that involves travel and tough opposition
It is not an understatement to conclude that the World Cup draw could not have gone any worse for England, with two teams in the top seven of the world rankings joining them and fixtures all over Brazil, meaning lengthy trips, changes in timezone and unfavourable conditions.
England have been pitted with Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica and will play the opposition in that order in Group D, which could mean that the final showdown with the group’s weakest team may end up a dead rubber.
Roy Hodgson’s team begin in the northerly location of Manaus, which will be among the most humid. What Roy England therefore don’t need is to be constantly chasing the ball, which they will probably be doing if the Euro 2012 quarter final with Italy is anything to go by.
Next up will be Uruguay, with any South American team potentially having an advantage due to being more accustomed with conditions.
This match will take place only five days later, almost 2,000 miles away in Sao Paolo. The only positive is that being in the south, the temperature should be a lot closer to what English players are used to.
If England are still alive in Group D after these fixtures, they face Costa Rica last, in land in Belo Horizonte.
England are 2/1 to win Group D and 8/15 to qualify for the knockout rounds. Of the Group D offerings, taking the 7/4 on Uruguay topping the group looks the most profitable at this stage.
Brazil remain favourites in the World Cup odds at 3/1 and they have been drawn alongside Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon in Group A.
Of the big guns, no team has arguably done as well as Argentina in the draw, as they have been positioned in Group F with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria.
Given that South American nations have won all of the four previous World Cups to be held on the continent, Argentina look a solid price at 5/1 to lift the trophy.
Meanwhile, assuming Argentina top their group, their second-round encounter will pit them against the team that finishes runner-up in Group E, which includes Switzerland, France, Ecuador and Honduras.
Rivalling England for ‘Group of Death’ status are Group B and Group G. Defending champions Spain face their fellow 2010 finalists Holland in their Group B opener, with Chile and Australia also in the group.
Seeing the Dutch bow out from this group would not be the biggest shock of the tournament.
Germany top the bill in Group G and are included with Portugal, Ghana and the USA.
Here is a full list of the groups
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ghana United States