Football Expert & Columnist
World Cup 2014: Glenn Hoddle pleased with England's group-stage draw
Glenn Hoddle says England have had a 'bit of luck' with their draw for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Last Updated: 09/12/13 9:06am
Roy Hodgson's men will face 2006 champions Italy first up in in the Amazonian venue of Manaus (June 14) before tackling Luis Suarez's Uruguay (June 19, in Sao Paolo) and Costa Rica (June 24, in Belo Horizonte).
Former Three Lions chief Hoddle told Sky Sports News that England will be pleased to get their jungle visit out of the way early, and is tipping his country to prosper in Brazil next summer.
"It's a perfect group for us," said Hoddle, after Hodgson's charges avoided the likes of 2010 winners Spain, as well as Argentina and Germany. "There are easier ones out there but there are tougher, too.
"An easier group would have meant more expectation and more pressure so we needed an edge to a group and possibly being third favourites in it.
"And if we can get through it and beat a couple of good teams, it will stand us in good stead and we can get right into the tournament.
"It's good that we get that one in the jungle out of the way as that being in the middle would have made it difficult, and then we have Costa Rica, a team we should beat, as the card up our sleeve last up.
"We've had a bit of luck and it's about time we had it in a World Cup and I think we can get out of the group - especially if our spine remains fit."
One-time England striker Alan Smith is also confident that his nation - who will meet either Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast or Japan if they reach the last-16 phase - can succeed in South America.
And he feels that Uruguay - despite winning the 2011 Copa America and having Suarez and Edinson Cavani to call on up front, as well as Inter Milan star Alvaro Pereira as an option out wide - may not be as dangerous as they seem.
"It's not the best Italian team I have ever seen but it will be well-drilled and they may be able to cope with the humidity better than us," said Smith, who notched 13 caps and two international goals.
"But while Uruguay are good up front with Suarez and Cavani, they have an aging back four so we have to be optimistic about that game."
"You've got to be positive, but we need to relax and not tense up."