We all knew it was a possibility, watching the telly on Friday. Hoping for the best - a repeat of the "EASY" group from South Africa - but expecting the worst, we watched two heavyweights get drawn, along with a tricky South American side. As the final pinball was drawn for the group, we braced ourselves for the worst...
"And the final team in the group...Australia!"
England escaped Group B, the anointed "Group of Death", which included Spain, the Netherlands and Chile, as well as other groups which included Brazil, Croatia, Columbia and the Ivory Coast to name a few. Alas, England's good luck ran out when Group D was drawn, and they go to Brazil knowing the first three opponents they have to face: Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica. Cue handwringing.
I'm not going to sugarcoat it - this is a difficult draw. The Italians, champions in 2006 and Euro finalists last year, are a well-balanced team managed by one of the most tactically astute characters not named Joachim Low. Uruguay has the pure attacking talent - Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez obviously stand out as the dangermen - and their excellent showing in South Africa cannot be ignored. While their Confederations Cup display did showcase a defence that alternated between shaky and shambolic, the attacking presence of the team makes them a dangerous foe. The Costa Ricans are something of an enigma. The team is very young and their potential is certainly known, but without much experience on the world stage, it's hard to know just what side they will put forth.
So there you have it. England, Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica will lock horns in 2014. A tough draw, but one could turn out well for England should results go their way. Much hinges on the work that Roy Hodgson and co. do before next summer. But hey, Glenn Hoddle thinks we'll be alright, so why worry?