England must not write off Tunisia & Panama, Southgate says
- Author: Myrtle Hill Dec 03, 2017,
Dec 03, 2017, 0:34
After meeting England in Volgograd, Tunisia - appearing at their fifth finals, and first since 2006 - meet Belgium in Moscow on 23 June before finishing against Panama in Saransk on 28 June. Now, the country knows what's coming and they can get excited.
Early favourites Brazil also have a hard assignment - Group E features two European sides in Switzerland and Serbia, and Costa Rica, who progressed from England's group in 2014. After two dismal World Cups in Brazil and South Africa, England simply need to be a quarterfinal team again and, in Russian Federation, they really should be.
"But even the draw today will be exciting for the fans".
"We have a group chat where there is always banter flying".
Belgium's best World Cup finish came in 1986 when they finished fourth, and Martinez believes this sets them as outsiders for the Jules Rimet trophy.
"Belgium will be favourites even to win the World Cup, but it is the ideal game to see how good this English team is".
He added: "It would be easy to say there is a certain round and level but the reality is we don't know".More news: City can still improve, says Guardiola
Southgate is likely to be bold and give youth a chance, but the games against Tunisia and Panama will pose different challenges than the more obvious test that Belgium will pose and sometimes, experience is a greater commodity than youthful exuberance against dogged, well-organised opponents.
Southgate pointed to England's premature exits from the last World Cup and Euro 2016 as reasons for limiting expectations.
"You have got to prepare for whoever. We are looking forward to it".
"Now it is just down to us to repay the faith that he has put into us".
And that makes them the clear favourites in the eyes of Maaloul.
"So, I like the fact that's been shared and I think it's important for us, especially with the younger groups, that they get a feel of that and that they get a feel of responsibility".