England dodged the dreaded group of death which proved to be their undoing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and Gareth Southgate will be very pleased with the draw.
In Belgium, they will have a litmus test for the latter stages, if they make it through the group, though the Belgians have only ever toppled the Three Lions once in cup competitions.
Belgium manager Roberto Martínez will relish the chance to play the nation where he spent the best part of 21 years, with his formidable side which boasts a wealth of talent in almost every position.
Tunisia and Panama will be quietly confident that they can upset the two favourites as there will be very little pressure on them – whether that will overcome the lack of World Cup experience in both squads remains to be seen.
Fortunately for England, they cannot face Iceland until the quarterfinals at the earliest.
What they said
England manager Gareth Southgate: “We haven’t done much research on the African teams yet. We’ve been good at writing off teams and then getting beaten.
“We’ve got to make sure that we are prepared for all of those games.”
June 18 – Belgium v Panama – Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, 16:00
June 18 – Tunisia v England – Volgograd Arena, Volgograd, 19:00
June 23 – Belgium v Tunisia – Otkrytiye Arena, Moscow, 13:00
June 24 – England v Panama – Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, 13:00
June 28 – England v Belgium – Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, 19:00
June 28 – Panama v Tunisia – Mordovia Arena, Saransk, 19:00
Group G factfile
- Belgium have only ever beaten England once in cup competitions.
- England faced Belgium in 1990 in the World Cup and won 1-0, the 1954 World Cup result was 4-4
- Last time Belgium beat England was in 1936 in a friendly.
- England beat Belgium 1-0 in 2012 International Friendly at Wembley when Roy Hodgson was manager – Danny Welbeck scored.
- England have only played Tunisia twice – last time was 1998 Fifa world cup in Marseille and England won 2-0 – Shearer and Scholes scored, Glenn Hoddle was manager
- England played Tunisia in 1990 1-1 took place in Tunisia – Bobby Robson was manager Steve Ball scored
- Last time England were in a group with Tunisia in a World Cup it was also Group G
- Debutants Panama’s entire population is half of London at 4 million.
- Tunisia have qualified for four World Cups, but haven’t appeared since 2006 in Germany.