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Live Reporting

Tom Rostance

All times stated are UK

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  1. Quote of the day?


    2014 runners-up

    Lionel Messi = massive plus.

  2. The fixtures are all in

    The wallchart is fully loaded.


    If like me you're blinded by time zones and easily confused you can see when the games all kick off now.

    Just press here.

  3. 'Shouldn't be difficult to improve'

    Alan Shearer

    Former Newcastle striker on BBC Radio 5 live

    It's a big advantage for Gareth Southgate that he's been at a tournament as a player. He knows what makes a player tick at a tournament and what they need.

    He'll be confident about this group. The homework starts now. We can't look at qualifying games as England again go in unbeaten. He's given some youngsters a chance.

    The expectation is no longer there now from the past couple of tournaments. I don't expect us to go to Russia and win but I expect us to improve on the last tournament when we lost to Iceland. That's what the country are looking for. It shouldn't be difficult.

  4. 'Panama are slow'

    Tim Vickery

    BBC Sport South American football expert on 5 live


    It's an accessible enough group for England. Panama are nearly South America - it used to be part of Colombia. It's a generation of players they have. They were a bit unfortunate not to reach the last World Cup.

    Their players are in their mid-30s. They're a bit long in the tooth and a bit slow. They needed some fortune to qualify.

    What we've often seen from Latin American sides - and I'm worried for Peru too - is that sometimes the tournament can pass them by. The emotional level, it's different from anything else they've experienced. They often don't play well until their third game. England is their second match. I'll be very surprised if England don't pick up three points against them.

  5. 'We know everything about Belgium'

    England v Belgium (28 June)

    5 Live

    Gareth Southgate
    Image caption: Gareth Southgate was in the England squads for the World Cups of 1998 and 2002

    England boss Gareth Southgate to BBC Radio 5 live: "There was a danger you get someone like a Serbia from pot four, which would have been extremely tough opposition. We need to find out more about Tunisia and Panama as we haven’t been tracking them.

    "We know everything about Belgium. I think that will capture the imagination back home as they have so many players in our league. They have probably the best group of players they’ve ever had.

    "My experience of tournaments is you need to get a result in all three matches. Tunisia takes me back to Marseille in 1998. Leading my country into a World Cup is an incredibly exciting moment for me.

    "It could fit perfectly with what we have arranged [for pre-tournament friendlies]. We’ll let you know what those are when they’re finalised.

    "What’s exciting is we can start to put some meat on the bones of what we do at the end of the season. Our season finishes later than some of the other countries.

    "In the past we’ve assumed we’ll be in certain rounds but we need to make sure we get out of our group."

  6. 'Whatever, we have to advance'

    Group F


    World Cup holders

    "From a sports perspective this is a very interesting group of opponents," said coach Joachim Low.

    "What we want to do in the group stage is set a foundation for the successful title defence.

    "We know Mexico from this year's Confederations Cup, Sweden we know from Europe. South Korea is a bit more unknown for us but I look forward to this group. At such a draw everything is possible. Whatever the group, we have to advance. I was generally relaxed. There is no reason for us to be nervous."

  7. 'All about Belgium?'

    Phil McNulty

    BBC Sport chief football writer

    England Belgium

    The final group game against Belgium in Kaliningrad is likely to decide the group winners barring surprises – and this will clearly be the toughest assignment for Gareth Southgate and his team.

    Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has an intimate knowledge of the Premier League after his time at Wigan Atletic and Everton while their outstanding generation of players has a heavy top-flight influence, including two performers of unquestioned world class in Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.

    Tunisia, who England meet in their opening game in Volgograd on Monday 18 June, are ranked 27th in the Fifa rankings, and will be heavy underdogs while a meeting with Panama, ranked 56th and at their first World Cup, should hold no terrors.

    England’s immediate fate appears to hang on that meeting with Belgium but Southgate will surely be confident of qualifying from Group G.

  8. Get involved

    #bbcfootball or 81111 on text

    No tackles!

    SMS Message: Harry Kane and Dele Ali up against Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Training at Spurs will be interesting towards the end of the season. from John, North London
    John, North London
  9. Groups of death/life

    Football analysts Gracenote Sports have assessed the groups and, based on their world football ranking, they've come up with the following conclusions:

    - Group A is the weakest group. Russia are the second-weakest team from pot one (even accounting for home advantage), Uruguay are the second-weakest from pot two, Egypt the weakest from pot three and Saudi Arabia the weakest from pot four.

    - Group B looks like the strongest group. It is particularly tough on top seeds Portugal, who couldn't have done much worse from being top seeded. The other teams in with them are Spain (highest ranked in pot two, Iran (second-highest ranked in pot three) and Morocco (second-highest ranked in pot four).

    Note: these assessments are based on Gracenote's rankings, not the Fifa rankings.

  10. 'A satisfactory outcome for the FA'

    Phil McNulty

    BBC Sport chief football writer

    England can have no excuses if there is a repeat of the embarrassment of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when they failed to even emerge from the group phase.

    Manager Gareth Southgate will rightly exercise public caution about a group that puts them up against Belgium, Tunisia and Panama – but privately he and the Football Association will surely regard this as a highly satisfactory outcome.

    There was certainly no need for FA chairman Greg Clarke to repeat the cut-throat gesture predecessor Greg Dyke delivered when England were drawn against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica ahead of her last World Cup in Brazil.

  11. 'The country knows what's coming and they can get excited'


    World Cup winners 1966

    More from Gareth Southgate, on group fixtures: "There's a bit of travelling, but having the six-day break between games might help any injuries clear up. You're always grateful for as much prep as possible.

    "Travel wise, the way tournaments are now you've got to be adaptable, but our kick-off times are decent as well.

    "It's been great today to mix with more experienced coaches. It's nice to have a fresh challenge.

    "When you’re trying to qualify, you don't think about days like today but that's the beauty of the World Cup. When you look at old videos and goals it takes you back to the pureness of football. Now, the country knows what's coming and they can get excited.

    "I was proud to play for my country, and to lead my country is beyond that. I’m really looking forward to it."

  12. Get involved

    #bbcfootball or 81111 on text

    Stuart: Is France, Australia, Peru and Denmark the most uninspiring group of all time? Who can think of a worse #worldcup group?

    England, Algeria, USA, Slovenia?

  13. 'Messi +10'

    Conor McNamara

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator


    France are one of the teams you’d fancy to win the World Cup – they have so many young, exciting players. Can they gel and mesh together? There’s usually a falling-out.

    Iceland will be fascinating. If they have the same bulk of players from Euro 2016, they'll have a spirit. Argentina only scraped into the World Cup. They were in big danger of missing out. They'll be relying on Lionel Messi. They're not the presence you'd expect. They're like Messi plus a team.

    Serbia are one to look out for. They're in with Brazil, Costa Rica and Switzerland - who came through against Northern Ireland. Aided massively via a controversial handball decision. I'd say Brazil and Serbia will come through that.

  14. 'We've been good at writing teams off'


    World Cup winners 1966

    England v Tunisia
    Image caption: England could do with David Batty now...

    England manager Gareth Southgate speaking on BBC Two: "Remembering the Tunisia game in 1998, it was the first thing that went through my mind. It was a fantastic day and it's nice to be able to relive that.

    "We haven't done as much preparing on the African teams yet so now that's what we can focus in on."

    On Panama: "We've been good at writing teams off and then getting beat. We’ve got to be prepared for every game."

  15. 'A very special draw'

    England v Belgium (28 June)


    Semi-finalists 1986

    Belgium manager Roberto Martinez: "I lived for 21 years in England so it is very special. It's the World Cup, we have a challenging draw, lots of travelling.

    "We are looking forward to it. We have a really good group of players, 25 players are now in the British game so are very well known. They have important roles in important teams and they enjoy playing for their country."

  16. England have done it!

    England v Belgium (28 June)

    Could it be 1990 all over again?

    Video content

    Video caption: On this day: Platt's sublime volley
  17. 'Eriksen can have the Bale effect'

    Conor McNamara

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator

    The game of the group stage is Spain against Portugal. At the last World Cup, Spain were very poor. Portugal will be on a high having won Euro 2016.

    Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Egypt makes me smile. The Russians will be pleased with that. It gives them at least a sniff of a chance of getting through.

    I saw Denmark beat the Republic of Ireland in the play-offs. Christian Eriksen for Denmark, is like Gareth Bale for Wales. One good player can make the difference as we saw with Wales at Euro 2016. Eriksen can have that same effect.

  18. Matt got his dates wrong

    #bbcfootball or 81111 on text

    What a relief...

    (who books a wedding during a World Cup?)

    View more on twitter
  19. Where are England playing?

    England v Belgium (28 June)

    Approximate distance from Moscow: 770 miles

    Location: Kaliningrad is the administrative centre of Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave situated on the Baltic Sea, sandwiched between Poland to the south and Lithuania to the north and east.

    Background: Loosely based on the design of Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena, the newly-built Kaliningrad Stadium has been plagued by delays and difficulties, including the the bankruptcy of the company responsible for its initial design. It was initially conceived as a 45,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof. However, this had to be scaled back to the more modest, roofless 35,000 venue that will host four first-round group matches in the 2018 World Cup.

    After this summer's tournament, the stadium will have 10,000 seats removed and become the home of Russian second-tier side Baltika Kaliningrad, whose average attendance last season was just short of 3,500.