Tough Draw

World Cup Groups

GROUP A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

GROUP B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

GROUP C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

GROUP D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

GROUP E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

GROUP F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

GROUP G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

GROUP H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, S Korea

ENGLAND will face Italy in their opening match of the 2014 World Cup after being drawn into one of the tournament’s three Groups of Death.

England’s opening Group D match will be against the 2006 champions in the jungle city of Manaus at 2am British time on Saturday, June 14, at high humidity in the heart of the Amazon – a nightmare for both players and fans, particularly with a hot reception in store for the English following comments by manager Roy Hodgson about hoping to avoid the venue.

England then faces Uruguay in Sao Paulo before finishing up against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte on June 19.

“It’s a tough group,” said England manager Roy Hodgson. “We know how good Italy are having lost to them at the Euros.

“There were a lot more scenarios were you were thinking this was going to be tough for us. We have a scenario that is tough for us.

“We almost have two top seeds in Italy and Uruguay.

“Even Costa Rica, are maybe the least known, but they are tough opponents..I talked yesterday that I was positive about the whole affair. I’m still positive about the whole affair.

“If we are well prepared, we have the chance to win all three games. We have three top quality opponents. I’m sure they will be three exciting games.”

If England comes through their group, however, a relatively straightforward last-16 match should await: Group C includes Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan, none of whom would cost Roy Hodgson too many sleepless nights.

In the quarter-finals, however, England would then be likely to meet either Spain or Brazil if all the results go according to form and expectations.

While England’s Group D is difficult, Groups B and G are equally tough. In Group B, Spain will face the Netherlands in their opening match of the tournament, a re-run of the bad tempered 2010 World Cup final.

Group G, meanwhile, is perhaps the toughest of the lot as it pitches Germany and Portugal together alongside the USA and Ghana – four sides who would all have expected to come through the group stages.

Hosts Brazil will take on Croatia in the opening match, and will also play Mexico and Cameroon.

France and Belgium enjoyed highly favourable draws: the French face Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras in Group E, while Belgium should be confident of progressing from Group H as they face Algeria, Russia and South Korea.

The Final Draw took place at the luxurious Costa do Sauípe in Salvador. It was conducted by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, assisted by Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro, Alcides Ghiggia, Fernando Hierro, Sir Geoff Hurst, Mario Kempes, Lothar Matthaus and Zinedine Zidane, who were representing the eight World Cup winners.

Brazil and Croatia will participate in the opening match at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on 12 June 2014.

Germany, meanwhile, will become the first team to reach 100 World Cup matches when they face Portugal five days later.

The Final will unfold at the cathedral of Brazilian football, the iconic Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, on 13 July.