England have been cut to second favourites behind Brazil to win the World Cup after a dream group-stage draw for the Qatar tournament this winter.
The Three Lions will face the United States, Iran, and either Scotland, Wales or Ukraine in the group stages.
Oddschecker had Gareth Southgate’s men at 15/2 to end 56 years of hurt at the tournament later this year before the draw in Doha had taken place, behind both Brazil and France.
England have been cut to second favourites behind Brazil to win the World Cup
WORLD CUP WINNER BETTING ODDS
Brazil – 11/2
France – 7/1
England – 15/2
Spain – 8/1
Germany – 19/2
Argentina – 12/1
Belgium – 12/1
Portugal – 16/1
Brazil – 11/2
England – 6/1
France – 7/1
Spain – 9/1
Argentina – 10/1
Germany – 12/1
Belgium – 12/1
Portugal – 14/1
But the same company then cut the Euro 2020 finalists’ odds to 6/1 – ahead of the current world champions who dropped to 7/1 – but still behind Tite’s men who remained at 11/2.
Brazil have been drawn against Serbia and Switzerland – who they faced in the group stages at the 2018 World Cup – and Cameroon, who were in their group when they hosted the tournament four years before that.
Reigning champions France meanwhile will face Denmark, Tunisia and either Peru, Australia or the UAE.
Spain have come in behind Brazil, France and England at 9/1, while Argentina are at 10/1.
The winners of the 2014 tournament Germany come in next at 12/1, the same as 2018 semi-finalists Belgium.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal came in at 14/1.
The Three Lions will play in the group stages between November 21 and December and will play their first match – against Iran on the opening day of the tournament.
After being drawn in Group B they will face either hosts Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and Holland (Group A) in the second round.
England are on the same side of the draw as Argentina and France and so could face either of them in the quarters. They could then come up against the winners of Group E or G and therefore face Spain or Germany or Brazil.
The exact match schedule will be decided at a later point in a break from tradition. FIFA want to work out the best programme for television audiences around the world.
The final will take place at the Lusail Stadium just a week before Christmas on Sunday, December 18.
England, who have recaptured fans’ hearts in recent years, have fallen short on the global stage ever since that famous triumph over West Germany in 1966 but optimism is building.
They are on an upward trajectory under Southgate after reaching the World Cup semi-finals four years ago.
They went one better last summer as they reached the European Championships final on home soil, only to be beaten by Italy on penalties.
‘The first two are obviously teams we have not played for quite a while and the third is a total unknown but throws up a possible British derby. We know what they are all about,’ Southgate told the BBC.
‘We are in on day one so it’s quite clear what our programme is now with the end of the Premier League and getting here as quickly as possible.
‘The first objective is to get out the group regardless of the opposition and go from there.
Oddschecker had Gareth Southgate’s men at 15/2 before the draw in Doha on Friday
‘I think in this situation all of our thoughts are with Ukraine and the people of Ukraine.
‘When that tie is played and how it is played is irrelevant and we will all adjust to enable them to play when they are able to.
‘I think when you’re seeded, you get the advantage of missing out on those top six or seven teams. For most of the first seeds, they would be pleased with the first group.
‘The US is an interesting one, I have met Gregg Berhalter many times and had some long chats. They have some very good players and we know what they are capable of as a nation.’
Usually the identity of all 32 World Cup teams would be known by the time of the draw but three positions are still to be determined.
But their odds were cut so that they became second favourites ahead of reigning champions France
Two Intercontinental finals will be played in Qatar on June 13/14. Costa Rica play New Zealand in one for a place in Group E, while in the other Peru take on the winner of the Australia vs UAE play-off set for June 7, also in Doha, for a spot in Group D.
Those games were moved from March because of the disruptive effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, which put back qualifiers in some parts of the world.
One of the three European play-off routes was delayed because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Scotland had been due to play Ukraine at Hampden Park in March but this was deferred until a date in June in the hope that Ukraine will be able to play the fixture.
The winner of that match is going to play Wales in Cardiff a few days later to discover who’s going to the World Cup to join England in Group B.
Brazil were the favourites at 11/2 before the draw and remained favourites after the groups were made known