Fates and Diego Maradona hand England a World Cup group of hope | Barney Ronay

Tunisia and Panama give Gareth Southgate’s men a winnable start in the World Cup before they face Belgium’s galaxy of Premier League stars

Welcome, once again, to the world. The balls have been cracked, the teams grouped off, the dates and venues parcelled out. After a glossy, agreeably fast-paced draw ceremony on the lighted stage of the Kremlin, Russia 2018 is go, the 21st Fifa World Cup officially a lockdown.

The draw itself was a grand affair, with luminaries from Diego Maradona to Gordon Banks ranged behind their gleaming punch bowls. From the opening moments there was a familiar rush of intrigue as Group B threw up Portugal against Spain in Sochi, an authentically mouthwatering World Cup prospect.

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