Roy Hodgson claimed earlier in the week that it mattered less who England were drawn against at this summer’s World Cup, and more about where they would be playing. Yet following Friday’s draw in Rio, Hodgson is unlikely to be happy with either.
England, now 33/1 to win the World Cup, have been drawn in Group D, alongside Euro 2012 finalists Italy, 2010 semi-finalists Uruguay, and a Costa Rica side ranked 31st in the world.
It means that their opening game on the 14th June will be against Italy, the side who knocked Hodgson’s men out of the Euros, in the Amazonian city of Manaus. It’ll be a late Saturday night for everyone watching at home – kick off is at 2am BST.
With its tropical climate, and the fact the city in the north of the country is over 2,500 miles away from England’s planned base in Rio, the 42,000 Arena Amazonia is certainly one of the venues the England boss would have hoped to avoid, but he will take some solace from the fact that they will at least be playing a fellow European side who are likely to be just as uncomfortable in hot and humid conditions.
It also means that their following two group games will be played at more forgiving locations – they’ll face Uruguay in Sao Paulo on the 19th June before playing a potentially crucial tie against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte. Both cities are based in the kinder climate of the south east of Brazil.
Elsewhere, hosts Brazil will kick off the tournament with a game against Cameroon, while fellow Group A sides Mexico and Croatia should allow Phil Scolari’s men to ease their way into the tournament they remain favourites to win, at 10/3.
Reigning champions Spain (11/2) were handed a repeat of 2010’s final when drawn alongside the Dutch (18/1), while Chile and Australia complete a tricky Group B that could well claim a big-name scalp or two.
France’s pre-draw odds of 33/1 have come all the way in to 20/1 after they were pitched against the less-than-daunting trio of Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras, while Argentina (9/2) overtook Germany (11/2) as second favourites following a similarly kind draw with Nigeria, Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Germans will lock horns with Ronaldo in their opening game against Portugal, before playing Ghana and the USA.
The World Cup 2014 draw in full
Group A: Brazil, Cameroon, Mexico, Croatia
Group B: Spain, Chile, Australia, Netherlands
Group C: Colombia, Cote D’Ivoire, Japan, Greece
Group D: Uruguay, Italy, Costa Rica, England
Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras, France
Group F: Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Group G: Germany, Ghana, USA, Portugal
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, South Korea, Russia
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.