Brazil World Cup: why England are scared of the jungle
Roy Hodgson says he is more concerned about venues than opponents in Friday's World Cup draw
ENGLAND'S Three Lions are terrified of the Brazilian jungle, and manager Roy Hodgson has admitted ahead of Friday's World Cup draw that if there's one place he wants his team to avoid it's Manaus.
Why? The sultry capital state of the Amazonas has an average June temperature of 31C as opposed to the less oppressive 19.5C in a city such as Porto Alegro in the south-east of Brazil.
"The venues we play in worry me more than the opponents," explained Hodgson. "There's definitely going to be climatic conditions which will be problematic for teams, not least all the northern European sides... You have a bit better chance if you get one of the venues where the climate is kinder."
On the four previous occasions that the World Cup has been held in South America (1930, 1950, 1962 and 1978), the trophy has been lifted by South American nations, bearing out Hodgson's analysis, and Manaus is the host city he wants to avoid above all. "The tropicality of Manaus is the problem," he said. "It is the place ideally to avoid."
The city of Porto Alegro, on the edge of the Guaiba Lake, is where Hodgson would "ideally" like England to play most of their matches. In truth, however, wherever the Three Lions end up they are unlikely to progress beyond the last 16 and, if Friday's draw is particularly unkind, they could go out in the group stage, a humiliation last visited upon an England team in a World Cup in 1958.
As an unseeded team, England could find themselves in a group containing Brazil, Spain, Germany or Argentina, all of whom would fancy their chances of beating a distinctly mediocre England team. "The draw is a time when speculation is rife and people have a lot of fun looking at the potential possibilities," said Hodgson. "Maybe in terms of the teams you are drawn against some on paper look harder than others."
Though there are signs Spain are no longer the force they once were, Argentina have been in ominous form of late - losing just one of their 12 matches in 2013 - but Hodgson was relaxed about the possibility of being drawn in the same group as the two-times World Cup winner.
"We don't know how good Argentina are, we would all think 'blimey, Argentina are strong' but we don't know that. They might be no stronger than Chile," he said. "The good thing is that if we get Argentina, for example, we will be there and have a chance to play them and believe we can go out and beat them."
He might believe that, few others will. ·