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England land Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in 2018 World Cup draw

England land Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in 2018 World Cup draw

The Three Lions were handed one of the easiest draws in the competition, on paper, with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama joining England in Group G.

And that makes them the clear favourites in the eyes of Maaloul.

"They're the top seeds in the group, but a really good challenge for us".

"They're an outstanding team", Southgate said of Roberto Martinez's side. 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.

The match also puts Tottenham team mates Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen against one another - which they marked with a Snapchat together captioned "Group Friends".

He added: "People are excited by some of the younger players and the approach we have taken and we have got to build on that".

"The interesting thing for us is starting later and what that might mean for us at the end of the season", he said. "You know how important it is for us as Muslims".

That will be followed by a meeting with Panama in Nizhni Novgorod, 400 kilometres east of Moscow, on June 24.

But the matches against Tunisia and England will be particularly evocative for their coach Hernan Dario Gomez.

Tunisia have never reached the knock-out stage of a World Cup, having failed in 1978, 1998, 2002 and 2006.

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. "Panama are very happy with this group".

"We haven't beaten those top teams yet so that is something we have got to aspire to do but we also know the team is improving and is going to improve in the months and years to come".

Gareth Southgate's side have drawn Hazard's Belgium which will see Gary Cahill marking his Chelsea team-mate.

Many of those players that take to the pitch will know each other well from playing in the Premier League week in week out, and the two managers will also be accustomed with one another after working as TV pundits together before global management.