World Cup draw: England dealt the “Group of Death” and will face Italy and lethal Suarez
The group stages for the 2014 World Cup were revealed on Friday at a ceremony in Brazil. 32 teams will battle it out to be crowned World Champions and England have been dealt a heavy hand as they face Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay in Group D.
Roy Hodgson’s men will open their campaign against Italy in the Amazonian city of Manaus on 15th June. The game will be the only one of its kind to kick-off at 02:00 BST. The heat in Manaus is already a cause for concern, with Hodgson lodging a request with FIFA to allow drinks breaks in the Brazilian heat.
England play Uruguay on 19th June and Costa Rica five days later. The Three Lions have never previously beaten Italy or Uruguay at a major tournament and are yet to meet Costa Rica, so a repeat of history would have the 1966 winners struggling to make the knockout phase.
Group B will see the repeat of the 2010 final in South Africa. Eventual winners Spain will clash with runners-up Netherlands in what is sure to be one of the highlight games of the group stages. Another possible scintillating encounter is Germany against Portugal in Group G that will see Ronaldo come up against former team mate Mesut Ozil.
Group G also has added value with the inclusion of Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA outfit. The German footballing icon will have to put allegiances to one side when the teams meet at next year’s World Cup.
France were arguably handed the easiest of the groups as they were drawn with Ecuador, Switzerland and Honduras, whilst Bosnia-Hercegovina were pitted against Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
The tournament kicks off on 12th June at 21:00 BST with hosts Brazil taking on Croatia in São Paulo.
Thomas Bradley, football correspondent
Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon.
Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia.
Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan.
Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy.
Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras.
Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria.
Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA.
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea.