The England football team will play Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in their World Cup group after they were handed a favourable draw for next year’s tournament in Russia.
Gareth Southgate’s team avoided the likes of Argentina, Brazil and Germany and will play their opening match against Tunisia on Monday 18 June (7pm).
The Three Lions then face Panama on Sunday 24 June (1pm) before taking on Belgium on Thursday 28 June (7pm).
Hosts Russia will play Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the World Cup at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on 14 June.
Spain, the 2010 World Cup winners, will play Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, after they were drawn in a group along with Morocco and Iran.
Holders Germany were drawn with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea while five-times winners Brazil will play Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina side will take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. France were drawn with Australia, Peru and Denmark.
England have never lost to Belgium at a major tournament and have only lost one of their 21 matches against them.
But Belgium’s current team, managed by Roberto Martinez, have been hailed as a “golden generation” with a wealth of Premier League talent including Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen.
After the draw, England full back Kyle Walker tweeted a photo of himself spitting out water, with the caption: “When you find out you gotta play @DeBruyneKev and @VincentKompany #WorldCupDraw #WC2018.”
— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) December 1, 2017
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Bryan Swanson said England will travel around 4,000 miles for their three matches in Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod and Kaliningrad respectively.
“What it does mean is that they have avoided Moscow and St Petersburg, the big cities in the group stage,” he said.
“They could have had it easier, but they could have had it a lot worse. They don’t, for example, have to do that 2,500-mile round trip to Ekaterinburg.”
If England make the last 16, they will meet Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan on 2 July or 3 July.
Russian President Vladimir Putin formally opened the draw ceremony at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, which was attended by football greats Pele and Diego Maradona.