England should succeed after kind Tunisia group

FA chief executive Martin Glenn has given Southgate a vote of confidence ahead of next year's World Cup

Gareth Southgate attempted to dampen expectations for Russian Federation 2018 despite England being drawn in a group from which most observers would expect them to advance without too many problems.

England were drawn in Group G alongside Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Friday's World Cup 2018 draw.

After avoiding Argentina, Brazil and Germany, England were the penultimate team picked from Pot 2 by Diego Maradona in the draw ceremony in the Kremlin's State Palace.

England will open up against Tunisia on June 18. The last two tournaments - Costa Rica went through in a group with us and then Iceland knocked us out. "But also not being fearful of what might happen is an important balance to find".

An Iberian derby between Portugal and Spain will be the highlight of Group B, with Iran and Morocco rounding out the group. Group D is also tougher than others, featuring Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

"We have a great chance", said the former global, who played for Tunisia between 1982-1994.

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"Because we are second seeds, we have to have two games where we will be favourites and we have got to handle that".

It was nearly fated, it seems, that given the links between the Belgium squad and England - and between Martinez and the country the 44-year-old Spaniard spent 21 years in, building his career as a player and as a manager with Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Everton - that the two nations would meet.

It will be nearly exactly 20 years to the day when England played Tunisia in their opening fixture of the 1998 World Cup, with England winning 2-0 on June 15.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has revealed his family will be supporting the opposition when he sends his team out against England at this summer's World Cup.

They beat Tunisia 1-0 but were eliminated after losing 2-0 to England in Lens, with Darren Anderton putting the English ahead before David Beckham scored a wonderful free-kick.

The majority of Belgium's "golden generation" ply their trade in England's top flight, with the team led by Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku.

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