The admittedly lengthy process of seeing which teams will face each other this winter in Qatar will kick off around 5pm and there will be more teams eager to avoid England than the other way around.
The Three Lions are the top seeds, along with Belgium, Brazil, France, Argentina, Spain and Portugal, after four years of impressive momentum.
They reached the previous World Cup semi-finals and then reached the 2019 Nations League quarter-finals, then lost last summer’s European Championship final on penalties to Italy, who failed to qualify for Qatar. The way England booked their place in the controversial tournament has been hugely impressive.
For Manchester City striker Grealish, who has never played in a World Cup, the idea of doing so is exciting and the spirit in the camp adds to his belief that England can justify their billing as one of the favourites.
“We’ll all be watching it,” he said of the draw. “In fact, it will be quite surreal to see a World Cup draw knowing that I have a chance to go (although) I know how difficult it will be to get into a World Cup team with the amount of talent we have here.
“As a group, we really don’t fear anyone. It shows in our performances.
“We have such a confident group and such a good group of players, a mix of experience and younger players.”
“I was talking to Conor Coady in the dugout when I came out (Tuesday),” Grealish said. “We were just saying how much we love coming here. I’ve heard people say it before, the players who played for England 10 or 15 years ago didn’t really enjoy it, but I love coming here. I love training and being with the guys.
“We’re playing with so much confidence and faith right now, so going into the draw we’re going to be excited and really not afraid of anyone.”
England will avoid the other top seeds and hosts Qatar, but could face one from Croatia, who beat them in 2018, Christian Eriksen’s Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the play-off series winners. offs between Scotland, Wales and Ukraine, as well as Senegal, who despite being African champions are only seeded in pot three.
As usual, England will be weighed down by the demands of domestic football in the first World Cup played in the middle of the European season.
Southgate’s Premier League players, who have four Nations League games in June, return for the upcoming season earlier than usual, starting the first weekend of August. The tournament begins eight days after matchday 16 of league matches.
Being drawn into one of the groups after kick-off could be a small advantage.
“Every 24 hours there might be someone recovering from an injury or a little bit more time to recover from jet lag and travel and get ready at training camp,” Southgate explained. “It’s going to be very tight, but we have to take whatever hand we’re dealt. We are in the same situation as most other nations.”
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This notice was published: 2022-03-31 16:15:57