England handed tough World Cup 2014 group

Lancashire Telegraph: England handed tough World Cup 2014 group England handed tough World Cup 2014 group

ENGLAND have been drawn in the group of death at next summer’s World Cup.

Roy Hodgson’s men will open their Group D campaign in Manaus when they face Italy on Saturday, June 15.

They must then head to Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte for their meetings with Uruguay and Costa Rica on June 19 and 24 respectively.

England avoided becoming the European team placed in a special pot, who had to be drawn against a South American top seed.

However, they ended up in the same group as Italy, who came out of the special pot, which meant the draw could hardly have been more difficult.

It means Roy Hodgson’s team must face the side that knocked England out of Euro 2012 in Kiev, before coming face-to-face with a Uruguay team containing Luis Suarez and PSG star forward Edinson Cavani.

Even the group minnows, Costa Rica, will not be beaten easily given the central American country have shock potential, as they proved by beating Scotland at the 1990 tournament.

If the opponents themselves were not tough enough, the travelling involved and the tropical conditions at one of the venues makes it even harder.

Hodgson has already confirmed England will base themselves in Rio de Janeiro for the tournament.

Unless he decides to relocate - as he previously suggested was an outside possibility should circumstances dictate - England face a lot of travelling.

Manaus is a five-and-a-half hour flight from Rio and is located in the Amazonian rain forest, with 99% humidity.

And it is even bad news for England fans back home - the opening match against Italy will kick off at 0200 (BST) on Sunday, June 15.

The one crumb of comfort is that England face a European side in such a remote and unusual location, 1,777 miles from where they intend to stay.

Sao Paolo and Belo Horizonte are much more accessible from Rio.

It is just over 200 miles to Sao Paolo and less than 300 to Belo Horizonte.

However, that place has unhappy memories for England as the venue where they lost to the United States in one of the biggest World Cup shocks of all time in 1950.

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