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World Cup 2018: England face Group of Death with Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Poland, France and hosts Russia the top seeds

GARETH SOUTHGATE may have to exorcise the Thunderclap ghost that still haunts Roy Hodgson and England. Despite easily topping their qualifying pool, the Three Lions have missed out on being a top seed when the groups are drawn for next summer’s World Cup at the Kremlin on December 1. Instead, hosts Russia will be joined by […]

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GARETH SOUTHGATE may have to exorcise the Thunderclap ghost that still haunts Roy Hodgson and England.

Despite easily topping their qualifying pool, the Three Lions have missed out on being a top seed when the groups are drawn for next summer’s World Cup at the Kremlin on December 1.

Gareth Southgate warned Jack Wilshere he ought to be playing regularly to return for England
Gareth Southgate has a tough summer ahead
Rex Features

Instead, hosts Russia will be joined by Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France, the leading seven countries in the next set of Fifa world rankings being published on Monday.

Southgate’s England, set to be 12th, will be in the second seeding block.

That at least ensures they cannot play Spain or 2014 group opponents Uruguay and Italy, although they could be drawn with Costa Rica.

But unless Italy, Switzerland and Peru all blow up in play-offs next month, England could be in line for a reunion with their Euro 2016 nemesis  Iceland.

Tottenham’s Harry Kane has become England’s talisman
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England could face Brazil who are among the top seeds for Russia
Reuters

They could even be drawn in a group of death with Brazil or Argentina, and possibly Nigeria from Pot 4.

The final seeding pots will not be confirmed until after the remaining nine qualifiers conclude on November 15.


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There are four more places up for grabs in Europe,  three in Africa and two from the intercontinental play-offs which pit New Zealand against Peru and Honduras with Australia.

Fifa, though, have already announced a change from the previous policy of splitting the qualified teams into geographical sections.

Who could England get?

NIGHTMARE SCENARIO

Brazil
England
Iceland
Nigeria

 

DREAM GROUP

Russia
England
Iran
New Zealand

Iceland secured qualification to their first-ever World Cup on Monday
Iceland knocked England out of Euro 2016
EPA
Iceland have now qualified for the World Cup for the first time ever
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Roy Hodgson suffered the lowest point of his managerial career when England exited the Euros against Iceland
Roy Hodgson suffered the lowest point of his managerial career when England exited the Euros against Iceland
PA:Press Association
Iceland's supporters salute their heroes
Iceland's supporters could scare the already nervous England team
EPA
Former Chelsea star John Obi Mikel is one of the key players for Nigeria
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England fans could face 50-hour train journeys at the World Cup
England fans face a grim group stage in Russia
Rex Features

Instead, they will use this month’s rankings, taking the points that would be gained in the play-offs out of the equation, to arrange the 32 teams into four sections of eight.

But in a Champions League-style draw, there will only be a maximum of two European teams in any one  group.


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So England could not get a European third seed — potentially Croatia, Iceland and, if they emerge from the play-offs, Denmark, Sweden and Northern Ireland — unless they were drawn with either of the two South American giants.

A best-case scenario would see them drawn with hosts Russia, Iran and New Zealand.

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England players set for £5million bonus for winning 2018 Russia World Cup

ENGLAND players will share a £5 million bonus if they win the 2018 World Cup – but won’t receive a penny if they fail to get out of their group, SunSport can reveal. The Three Lions squad is in talks with the FA about the level of cash they will pocket if they do well […]

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ENGLAND players will share a £5 million bonus if they win the 2018 World Cup – but won’t receive a penny if they fail to get out of their group, SunSport can reveal.

The Three Lions squad is in talks with the FA about the level of cash they will pocket if they do well in Russia next summer.

England would be laughing all the way to the bank with a World Cup win
Times Newspapers Ltd

Player representatives and officials are in the latter stages of thrashing out a bonus scheme and a source close to the talks has told SunSport the bonus will be around £5 million if England lift the famous Jules Rimet trophy.

Shared among the 23-man squad, the cash incentive works out at £215,000 per player – about two week’s pay for the likes of Spurs striker Harry Kane.

Bonuses are unlikely to kick in unless England reach the last 16.

The players will earn a combined £1m for reaching the knockout stages and more for reaching the last eight and semi-finals.

England will bank £5million as a team for winning in Russia
EPA
Gareth Southgate will need directions to the bank if he wins the World Cup
EPA

The squad failed to activate any bonus at the last World Cup in Brazil in 2014 after finishing bottom of their group following a series of woeful performances under Roy Hodgson.

A source said: “I don’t think any of the players really believe they will win the World Cup next year but they still need to go through the motions and draw up incentives.


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Gareth Southgate got £1million for reaching the group stage
PA:Press Association
An unlikely World Cup win would earn England a fortune to celebrate
Getty - Contributor

“If they go all the way and win it, they will be more than deserving of the £5 million.”

England boss Gareth Southgate has already banked £250,000 for guiding the team to Russia following a successful qualifying campaign.

And he could bank £1 million for leading the nation to World Cup glory.

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England boss Gareth Southgate backs decision for the Three Lions to based in remote town of Repino for 2018 World Cup

GARETH SOUTHGATE has defended the decision to base England in the remote town of Repino for the World Cup. They will be nearly two hours from the nearest airport in St Petersburg and could face a whopping 6,000 miles in the air if they get drawn into their worst-case scenario for three group games. Southgate […]

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GARETH SOUTHGATE has defended the decision to base England in the remote town of Repino for the World Cup.

They will be nearly two hours from the nearest airport in St Petersburg and could face a whopping 6,000 miles in the air if they get drawn into their worst-case scenario for three group games.

England boss Gareth Southgate has defended the decision for the Three Lions to be based in Repino
AP:Associated Press
The 1966 World Cup winners will be based two hours away from the nearest airport
AFP or licensors

Southgate picked England’s isolated forest retreat himself.

He said: “We went through a long process in terms of looking at the venues available. We wanted to get the right balance around the location in terms of travel, in terms of climate, and the quality of the training ground that is paired with that.

“It was important for us that we had a hotel with exclusive use.

“We want to mix and engage with the local community but equally it’s important to have a base where the players can relax and switch off without being disturbed. And the reality is within a tournament, security is important as well.

Vodka bottles are littered around at Repino, the Russian town that will host England
The local scenery will not be much for the Three Lions to get excited about next summer
The local scenery will not be much for the Three Lions to get excited about next summer

“You can’t get the perfect scenario that ticks every box.

“Climate, travel, training ground, distance to the training ground, distance from the hotel to the airport.

“The longest flight would be three hours. That’s nothing — all the players are travelling that sort of distance for Champions League games.”

England are in pot two for the draw which takes place today.

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Harry Kane must use the World Cup to show everyone he can be among best on planet, says Gareth Southgate

HARRY KANE has been challenged to prove he is among the best in the business by becoming a World Cup hero. The striker, with ten Premier League goals already for Spurs, is an automatic England pick. And head coach Gareth Southgate said: “I’m certain it is Harry’s ambition to be the best in the world. […]

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HARRY KANE has been challenged to prove he is among the best in the business by becoming a World Cup hero.

The striker, with ten Premier League goals already for Spurs, is an automatic England pick.

England boss Gareth Southgate has challenged Harry Kane to prove himself at next year’s World Cup
Reuters
The Tottenham striker has been in lethal form for club and country this season
Getty Images - Getty

And head coach Gareth Southgate said: “I’m certain it is Harry’s ambition to be the best in the world.

“If that is his ambition, then this is the stage to go and show it.

“As a player you are judged a lot by what happens with your club, but in the end the world stars are ultimately judged by what they do with their country.”

Former Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson says England should fear no one.

Gareth Southgate believes that the 24-year-old must prove his worth in Russia next summer
Rex Features
Former Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson believes England should fear no-one at the World Cup
Reuters

The Crystal Palace chief led England into the last World Cup in Brazil when they were in a so-called group of death with Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.

Then FA chairman Greg Dyke caused controversy with a throat-slitting gesture following the draw — and England were dumped out after the group games.


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This time England are in pot two, and will be paired with a top seed from holders Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, France as well as hosts Russia and Poland.

But Hodgson said: “I don’t think it matters what draw England get.

“What matters is they will go with a good team that I believe is capable of doing extremely well.

“I don’t think England will fear anyone.”

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