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World Cup 2018 draw; Reactions, quotes and predictions

  •         The World Cup 2018 draw was held today in Moscow, Russia
  •         England won’t play in group of death this time
  •         The Three Lions will face Tunisia in the opening round

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 01: Gareth Southgate, Manager of England speaks to Roberto Martinez, Manager of Belgium during the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia at the State Kremlin Palace on December 1, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Draw for the World Cup 2018 played in Russia next year has finished a couple of moments ago. We heard a nice speech from Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, followed by many football stars that completed the draw. A lot of English fans were hoping to get Poland, Iran and Panama in the group, which didn’t happen. Interestingly Alan Shearer had an interesting comment just a couple of minutes before the draw was done. Here is what Newcastle’s legendary striker said: "We should avoid Panama and Iran because we focus more against the bigger teams". In case you missed it, England will play in the same group with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. The opening match will take place in Volgograd against Tunisia. Interestingly, these teams met in WC 1998 in France. England won 2-0 with Shearer and Scholes were on the scoresheet.

Here is what England’s coach Gareth Southgate had to say: "Remembering the Tunisia game in 1998, it was the first thing that went through my mind. It was a fantastic day and it's nice to be able to relive that.We haven't done as much preparing on the African teams yet so now that's what we can focus in on." When asked to comment that England will face another underdog from CONCACAF zone, Southgate said: "We've been good at writing teams off and then getting beat. We’ve got to be prepared for every game."

It is going to be very interesting to watch Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Marouane Fellaini and other Belgium internationals going against their English comrades. Tim Vickery, an expert for South American football said that Panama are nowhere close to the quality Costa Rica’s team had in World Cup 2014 in Brazil, and doesn’t take them as a potential threat for England: “Majority of their players are currently in mid-thirties. I can’t see them doing what Costa Rica did in Brazil”.

Dean Smith, one of our lead writers, shared his England fan point of view for the upcoming World Cup 2018:” It's a bit of a mixed bag of a group really. On one hand, Tunisia and Panama are teams we should beat, but they're also slightly unknown quantities. Panama's rise has not gone unnoticed and we cannot afford to underestimate them. The fact they're even at the World Cup finals is a huge surprise but now that they are there, they'll be desperate to give a good account of themselves and we cannot afford to put in a below-par performance like the one that saw us knocked out of Euro 2016 against Iceland.

Belgium are obviously going to be an incredibly difficult side to overcome. The likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku will cause us real problems, but we face the Red Devils last in the group, which could prove key if we do what is required in the opening two games and get the two victories that we should get with the squad that we have. If we can get those two wins, then we can face Roberto Martinez's side with confidence and if we can beat them, then we can feel confident of going deep into the tournament.

For what it's worth, if we were able to win those first two games and secure a route through to the second round, I would make us favourites against any of the teams that qualify from Group F, so I think we have to make the Quarter Finals our minimum aim now, but the key will be making sure we are professional enough to get the six points required from the first two games, which may look easier on paper than it actually is, particularly given England's recent tournament history”.

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World Cup 2018 draw; Reactions, quotes and predictions

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