The World Cup draw was not kind to England but all hope is not lost as they prepare to face Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
It is hard to say whether Roy Hodgson’s side have been drawn in the ‘group of death’. Group B contains Spain, the Netherlands, Chile and Australia, while Group G is made up of Germany, Portugal, Ghana and USA. What England do know is it will be difficult to reach the last 16.
Italy won the 2006 World Cup and, of course, knocked England out at the quarter-final stage of Euro 2012. They have world-class players in the likes of Mario Balotelli and Andrea Pirlo, who is as good as ever at 34, and will be motivated by their exit at the group stage in South Africa last time out.
It is impossible to mention Uruguay without immediately thinking of Luis Suarez. The striker is enjoying a sensational season for Liverpool and will play alongside the talented Edinson Cavani in Brazil. They reached the last four at the 2010 World Cup and will be out to go one better closer to home.
Costa Rica are the weakest side in Group D and will be the team the others will target for three points. They have Premier League players in Bryan Oviedo and Bryan Ruiz but are not a threat to the rest.
England (2/1 to win the group with BetVictor), then, must beat one of Italy (7/4) or Uruguay (13/8) to qualify for the knockout stages. Their best hope could be in the opener against the Azzurri.
The tropical heat of Manaus will be tough on both sides but England could actually catch Italy cold in the Amazonian city. They are notoriously slow starters at tournaments so England should go at them in the opener.
Uruguay come next in Sao Paulo in arguably the toughest group match. But some of their players are not getting any younger, which will be music to the ears of Andros Townsend, Theo Walcott and their pacey, young colleagues.
If England get to their final game against Costa Rica needing only a point to qualify, they will be more than happy. Although at 33/1 to win the tournament, England fans should not expect too much.