World Cup 2014: "England players should relish the challenge"

Pundits react to World Cup draw

Heat, humidity and long-distance travelling. These are the issues England will face at the 2014 Fifa World Cup after the draw for the group stages was made on Friday.

Roy Hodgson's side open their Group D campaign against Italy on 15 June in Manaus, a city located in the Amazonian rainforest where humidity can reach 80% and temperatures will be around 30C. It is also 1,777 miles from England's base in Rio de Janeiro.

Games against Uruguay and Costa Rica follow and Match of the Day pundits Alan Shearer [AS], Roberto Martinez [RM] and Mark Lawrenson [ML] assess England's chances in Brazil.

Can England handle the heat?

RM: "I think the heat and humidity is the biggest problem, it is the worst place to play a football game, but I think playing against a European side first will help because it will be the same for them too."

AS: "It is not the ideal location to play the first game, but it is against Italy who will also not be used to the heat."

ML: "Italy are a better team than England but they have to face the humidity just like we will."

What about the travel?

AS: "Unless you have been there and travelled people can underestimate the tiredness that travelling does for you. Sitting on a plane for hours and then having to play a game it can affect you.

"You cannot do anything about form or fitness but what you can plan is travel, hotels, pitches at the training ground. The Football Association will have that spot on."

RM: "I think sometimes it can be a benefit when the games are well spread out because it can sometimes be too long staying in the same place when you are away from home.

"Downtime can be a big problem. How the players switch off away from football. Some nations do really well to excite the players and prepare them mentally. You cannot go from game to boredom and then back to game, that is a massive part."

ML: "Normally by the end of the Premier League the players are on their knees. Playing in Manaus is a massive thing for England, they will have to go there two days early to face Italy. It will be very difficult for the supporters to get to Manaus."

How difficult is England's group?

Roy Hodgson on "tough" World Cup group

AS: "It is a tough group, it really is. We play Italy first then Uruguay second and the team you would probably think are no-hopers in that group, Costa Rica, we play last. I suppose that could work in our favour if we are still in it by then. It is a group the England players should be excited about and relish the challenge."

RM: "It is difficult draw, but in a World Cup you are going to have to play against teams as hard as these. Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica will all offer completely different tests."

How do they prepare?

AS: "The likes of Steven Gerrard will know this is going to be their last tournament and they will be determined to go to Brazil and be successful. The World Cup has to be the pinnacle for any player. The first thing their club managers will be saying to them is 'forget what happened today, there's four or five months to go'. They'll be determined to get their minds focused on their club football."

RM: "I always think that South Americans are the best for preparing for a World Cup - it is a celebration, something that is just a joy to spend time around. I think that is important. I have not seen European nations preparing with that joy and enjoying the occasion more than just feeling that it is a chore."

The best of the rest

AS: "I think Brazil will be quietly confident of progressing from Group A. In the opening game of the tournament they face Croatia who progressed via the play-offs and I think that is a decent group for Brazil."

RM: "Group G is interesting. With Jurgen Klinsmann head of the USA revolution and Germany, who in my eyes are one of the best teams for the future of football, it is an exciting one."

ML: "The Spain group is a 'wow'; Spain, Chile, Australia and the Netherlands. The group England would have loved to be in is Switzerland's. That is the easiest group of all easy groups."