World Cup draw: England play Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

Argentina legend Diego Maradona drew England at the draw in Russia

England have been drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G at next year’s Fifa World Cup in Russia.

Gareth Southgate’s men will begin their tournament against Tunisia on Monday, 18 June (19:00 BST) in Volgograd.

They will then face World Cup debutants Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on 24 June (13:00 BST) before playing top seeds Belgium four days later in Kaliningrad (19:00 BST).

Russia play Saudi Arabia in the opening game in Moscow on 14 June (16:00 BST).

Holders Germany are in Group F with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea while five-times winners Brazil are in Group E alongside Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.

The 2018 tournament takes place in 12 stadiums across Russia between 14 June and 15 July.

The schedule of matches in England’s group

Groups and fixtures

Reaction to the World Cup draw

A guide to the grounds hosting games in Russia

Find out more about the 32 teams who qualified

World Cup groups in full

  • Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
  • Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
  • Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
  • Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
  • Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
  • Group F: Germany, Sweden, Mexico, South Korea
  • Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
  • Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

Who got the hardest draw?

There is not one group that obviously stands above the rest as being the toughest.

In terms of rankings, Group B looks the most difficult.

European champions Portugal, ranked third in the world, have been drawn with neighbours and 2010 World Cup winners Spain. Iran, who are unbeaten in 10 Asian qualifying matches and Morocco, who topped a group featuring Ivory Coast, make up the rest of the group.

Group F also looks tricky for the reigning champions. Germany, who beat Argentina 1-0 in the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil, will likely face three robust examinations against Mexico, Sweden and South Korea as they try to retain the title for the first time since Brazil did so in 1962.

Resurgent Brazil – thrashed 7-1 in the 2014 semi-final in Belo Horizonte – have also been drawn in what looks like a quietly exacting group.

Alongside Neymar’s Brazil in Group E are Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia while Lionel Messi and his Argentina team-mates play debutants Iceland – who reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 – Croatia and Nigeria.

A good group for England?

England have not lost to Belgium in their past 11 meetings – and their only defeat against them in 23 games was in 1936.

The Three Lions have met Tunisia twice before, drawing a friendly in 1990 and beating the North Africans in their opening game of the 1998 World Cup in France, while England have never met Central America country Panama.

Shearer remembers beating Tunisia in ’98
England’s record against their group-stage opponents
Opponent Played Won Drawn Lost
Belgium 21 15 5 1
Tunisia 2 1 1 0
Panama 0 0 0 0

England’s possible route to the final

In summary, reaching the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 15 July is not going to be easy.

If England top their group, their path to the final could see them come up against Colombia, Brazil, France and then Germany.

If Southgate’s side finish second then it could be Poland, Germany, Spain and then Brazil in the final.

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