gary neville

Neville not expecting easy England win in World Cup opener

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville is expecting the Three Lions to win their opening game of the World Cup, but insists it won’t be easy.

While the World Cup action in Russia got underway on Thursday, England fans have to wait a little longer for their opening fixture of the tournament, travelling to Volgograd for their Group G fixture against Tunisia on Monday.

While Belgium are expected to top the group, England are widely tipped to qualify for the knockout stages. However former Manchester United captain and ITV pundit Gary Neville doesn’t think that their opening game will be easy:

“I think three at the back is a wise move; I don’t think there is a comfortable back four there. This provides a bit more protection and allows some of the more talented players to move forward from that solid base,” he told Sky Sports News.

“There are a couple of decisions to make but the main thing is that we start in a solid manner, particularly those playing in the tournament for the first time. You want to play well, get through that first game having not made a mistake.

“I’ve been to three World Cups and it’s the ultimate test – of your concentration, your focus, your ability to deliver under big pressure. We haven’t always done that – and I’ve been part of that problem – but the teams that win the World Cup are the most resilient and the ones who can stand the test of time.

“I don’t think you can talk about England winning the tournament because that would be unrealistic but what I think you can hope to see is growth from the previous two tournaments.

“The expectation has to be there to win the first game and we should win – but that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

“You’d hope Tunisia might be as disorganised as Saudi Arabia but they won’t be. It might be 30 degrees on Monday – that’s a factor. I was part of a squad that played against Tunisia in ’98 – as was Gareth – in a very hot Marseille.

“But it’s about being professional, delivering, taking your chances. I’m confident England will win.”

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