No fear of England for Tunisia, Panama

World Cup 2018: Fortune favours England in draw - despite Belgian threat

Gareth Southgate attempted to dampen expectations for Russian Federation 2018 despite England being drawn in a group from which most observers would expect them to advance without too many problems.

Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul was delighted to be drawn in the same group as England for the 2018 World Cup, insisting that the two teams will fight it out for second place behind Belgium.

England will take on the top-ranked nation in their group, Belgium, in their final match on June 28, a schedule that should also favour Southgate's team, says Murphy. It will be nearly exactly 20 years to the day when England played Tunisia in their opening fixture of the 1998 World Cup, with England winning 2-0 on June 15.

Southgate pointed to England's premature exits from the last World Cup and Euro 2016 as reasons for limiting expectations. Group D is also tougher than others, featuring Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has revealed his family will be supporting the opposition when he sends his team out against England at this summer's World Cup.

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"But at least it prepares us if we are going through for playing some of the good sides further down the line".

"We have a great chance", said the former worldwide, who played for Tunisia between 1982-1994.

The English Premier League season is due to finish on May 13, with the FA Cup final scheduled for May 19, giving Southgate plenty of time to work with his players prior to the tournament.

When asked about England's chances of winning the tournament, World Cup victor Gordon Banks said: "If they start straightaway, getting some results, playing pretty well, then they'll stand a chance". "To play for my country in a World Cup is an incredible honour, to lead my country there as a manager is beyond that". Now 61, he coached his native Colombia at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Belgium have beaten England only once in 21 meetings - back in 1936 - but the side that boasts Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku is a fearsome beast. "That's the hard question, she was born in England but I'm sure I can persuade her to support Belgium".

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