Matt Dickinson in The Times: Greg Dyke will never again catch the public mood as effectively as he did with his cut-throat gesture when England were pitted, dauntingly, against Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica in the 2014 World Cup finals yesterday.
The FA chairman’s spontaneous reaction of throat-slitting did not please Roy Hodgson or FA officials who tried to play it down as “just a bit of banter”, but the moment perfectly captured the story of England’s anguish.
We cannot even blame a conspiracy of Fifa, foreigners and hot balls. It was none other than Sir Geoff Hurst who drew England from the hat, leaving the nation fearing that this will be the shortest domestic interest in a World Cup since 1958, the last time they failed to get out of the group.
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Neil Ashton in the Daily Mail: After upsetting the Mayor of Manaus earlier in the week, Roy Hodgson’s World Cup fears have been realised. England have had a mare.
Jungle fever has already set in as Hodgson prepares to head up to this tropical city buried deep in northern Brazil’s rainforests for their opening group game.
Hodgson as good as caused a diplomatic incident earlier in the week when he called Manaus ‘the place ideally to avoid’. The city’s Mayor Arthur Virgilio Neto subsequently released a statement accusing Hodgson of lacking ‘education and culture’.
Manaus has a population of 1.7m and England will discover that most of them will now be supporting Italy when the teams emerge from the tunnel on June 15.
The boos that will ring out when they step out of the Arena Amazonia will confirm it. Hodgson has made a big tactical mistake with the people of Manaus.
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Daniel Taylor in the Guardian: The last time we were here it was marked the next morning with a now infamous front-page splash of "E-A-S-Y", which was certainly one way of letting us know that England had been drawn against Algeria, Slovenia and – this being the Sun – the Yanks. Fabio Capello's team hardly made it look easy and, four years on, at least nobody should be getting too carried away about England's chances this time.
England's is not quite the Group of Death. Group B deserves that tag bearing in mind it starts with Spain and Holland re-enacting the last World Cup final and also features Australia and a Chile side that have just given Roy Hodgson's side a lesson in the art of how to take care of a football. Yet Group D is still probably as treacherous as anything Hodgson could have dared imagine.
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Darren Lewis in the Daily Mirror: Yes, at first glance they are fixtures to send a shiver down your spine. England v four-time winners Italy. England v goal machine Luis Suarez and his Uruguay team-mates. England v all sorts of heavyweights if we were to get beyond the group stages.
Yet I'd suspect the England players - battle-hardened from Champions League combat against the very best that Planet Football has to offer - would far prefer to be part of the big occasions than on a hiding to nothing in an easy group.
I'd suspect many of them, decorated heroes such as Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard, are relishing the chance to have one last hurrah on the biggest stage of all against top quality opposition.
Gerrard in particular will be licking his lips and the thought of taking on the Liverpool team-mate currently carrying the side on his back.
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Michael Owen in the Daily Telegraph: England have undoubtedly been given a tough group at the World Cup, but it is by no means an insurmountable challenge to qualify for the knockout stages.
We have avoided what I would class as the big five nations – Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Holland and Germany – and ended up with teams in Italy and Uruguay that we should regard as being on our level.
I would argue that Italy are no stronger than England while Uruguay, as formidable as they are in an attacking sense with Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani, can be tested defensively.
Clearly, Uruguay will be in their own backyard at a South American World Cup, while Costa Rica will also feel comfortable in the conditions as a Central American team.
There is a Group of Death at every World Cup and England have landed one of the worst ones in Brazil, but if we approach the opening game against Italy properly and ensure that we respect the conditions in Manaus, I am confident we can qualify.
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Glenn Moore in the Independent: With yesterday’s draw having brought the 2014 World Cup into sharp focus, the attention of England’s players, media and fans will now be very much on Brazil until the tournament is over. But once the immediate plotting of who, where and when is done, the manager might just be thinking further into the future.
While Roy Hodgson will go to South America intent on doing everything he can to pull off a historic triumph, no one seriously expected England to be celebrating victory come 13 July even before yesterday’s daunting draw. The Football Association chairman, Greg Dyke, gestured as much yesterday.
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