World Cup Draw: Tough for England, but It Could've Been Much Worse

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World Cup Draw: Tough for England, but It Could've Been Much Worse
Clive Mason/Getty Images

One of Roy Hodgson's problems is that he's often too honest. If you ask him a question, the chances are you'll get an answer.

It might be a rather "wordy" answer that he has to apologise for afterwards, but Honest Roy will tell you the truth.

So when he was asked which World Cup draw he wanted to avoid, he said Manaus, deep in the dreaded humid Brazilian rainforest.

And it seems word got back to the town in the very north of Brazil, as Mr Arthur Virgilio Neto, the mayor of Manaus, commented in The Daily Telegraph:

Clive Mason/Getty Images

We Amazonians also prefer that England do not come. We hope a better national side comes, with more football and a more sensitive, cultured and educated coach. Here is one of the few people in the world who isn't curious about the Amazon and doesn't dream of knowing Manaus.

Luckily, the English people are different from Mr Hodgson. They are educated and appreciate beauty. There is nothing more beautiful and exciting than the Amazon rainforest, the state of Amazonas and Manaus.

So Roy won't exactly be welcomed with open arms after England were drawn to play their first game in Manaus against Italy before travelling to Sao Paulo to play Uruguay, then Belo Horizonte to face Costa Rica.

Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images

This draw isn't actually as bad as it looks at first glance for England. Costa Rica are one of the weakest teams in the tournament and while Italy are obviously very strong (and, perhaps more dangerously, pretty unpredictable), they could have been drawn with a tougher European team.

Uruguay will be the team that everyone fears, but it's important to point out that this is probably a side on the decline, with the majority (Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani apart, of course) ageing together and a team that very nearly didn't qualify at all, scraping into a play-off spot.

Equally, while Manaus will be a sweat boxand one genuinely fears for the health of players such as Wayne Rooney and James Milnerat least England are playing another European side there, rather than a more-acclimatised South American outfit.

Equally, the climates of Sao Paulo (assuming that stadium is ready by next summer) and Belo Horizonte will be more manageable and relatively easy to get to from their Rio de Janeiro base.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images

This is, of course, not to say that England will necessarily go through. Given the state of Hodgson's team, they will be third favourites to qualify, but Group A featuring Brazil and Mexico, or Group G with Germany, Ghana and the USA and even Group B against Spain and Chile would all probably have been worse.

It's an excellent draw for newspapers, of course, with a few good "stories" to be told. Prepare yourselves for months of tales about England against Luis Suarez and Mario BalotelliEngland v Cristiano Ronaldo in 2006 will seem like a minor story compared to the reams of words that will be written about these ones.

This is quite clearly a tough draw for England, but it is arguably a good one for all. England are facing strong enough teams for it to be a huge challenge, but not so strong that they're complete no-hopers.

It's all rather exciting, isn't it?

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