Published: Sun, December 03, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

Belgium favourites in World Cup group, says England boss Gareth Southgate

Belgium favourites in World Cup group, says England boss Gareth Southgate

"It's the World Cup, we have a challenging draw, lots of travelling".

Tunisia are first up, in Volgograd on June 18, and there will be memories of England's 1998 World Cup opening game win against the same opponents in Marseille. But with a group of emerging young players to complement the likes of Harry Kane, Eric Dier, John Stones and Raheem Sterling, England certainly possess the quality and depth to target a quarterfinal spot at least.

"It's a new match, with two new trainers and a new generation", added Maaloul, who took charge in April this year.

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.

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The Three Lions were handed one of the easiest draws in the competition, on paper, with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama joining England in Group G.

"In many ways when you go into the World Cup the teams that are the favourites are the nations which have won the World Cup before, there is a psychological level that you have to achieve in order to have that".

"We have a group chat where there is always banter flying. We are excited by the players we are working with and looking forward to seeing that journey develop".

"We have to pay great attention to England and Belgium without forgetting Panama, who could be a surprise".

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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". "But it's how we cope with expectation, how we can be a balanced team, how we enjoy the responsibility in a World Cup".

"That is the most important thing for us".

"We've got six days of rest after our first game, which if they are anxious about travel, that shouldn't be an issue". "But if we do not beat Panama and Tunisia, we should start again!"

Tunisia have never reached the knock-out stage of a World Cup, having failed in 1978, 1998, 2002 and 2006.

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