World Cup 2018: England are in a difficult group, says Gareth Southgate

World Cup 2018: England are in a difficult group, says Gareth Southgate

Southgate’s side were regarded as having a potentially easy route to the last 16 when they were placed in Group G with Tunisia, Panama and Belgium.

England have not won an opening group game at a major tournament since beating Paraguay at the 2006 World Cup in Germany – and Southgate believes they have not been given a comfortable ride in Russia.

He said: “When the draw was made, everyone had this perception that it was the easiest group. I would argue it is one of the most difficult with ourselves, Tunisia and, of course, Belgium, in terms of the Fifa world rankings.”

Roberto Martinez’s Belgium are ranked third while England are 12th and Tunisia 21st. Panama are 55th.

Southgate is full of respect for Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul and his side, saying: “For every opponent, we would prepare exactly the same – not to flood the players with information about the opposition. I think we’ve done the same with Tunisia as we would for Brazil.

“We’ve highlighted their style of play. We’ve highlighted the areas we feel we can exploit. They are a good team. They like to play. I like their coach’s ideas. They’re very organised. They like to play from the back. Their organisation against Spain was excellent and this is a big test for us.”

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