Football

Mourinho: England can win World Cup

Man United manager believes the Three Lions have a 'great generation'

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes England's senior side can emulate their junior counterparts and win next year's World Cup in Russia.

England are the first nation to win three major men's age-group tournaments in a single year after a stunning 2017.

Their youth teams have enjoyed an unprecedented run of success this year, with the Under-17s and Under-20s becoming world champions.

Meanwhile, the Under-19s were crowned European champions while their Under-21 compatriots reached the last four of the European Under-21 Championship before losing on penalties to eventual winners Germany.

Mourinho told Sky Sports: "I think England must have a chance because the players are really good.

"There's a great generation of players at different ages and with different qualities...

"England have great potential to do something important."

Despite the hype surrounding England's young Lions, especially after some of them stepped up to help the senior team record successive draws against world champions Germany last week and five-time World Cup winners Brazil on Wednesday, former England striker Michael Owen doesn't share the optimism.

He told Omnisport: "Some of our players, going back to my generation, were winning Champions Leagues and all kinds of big trophies.

"They were some of the best players in the world.

"Is this generation better? I would probably say not.

"I think the likes of (Paul) Scholes, (Steven) Gerrard, (Wayne) Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, (David) Beckham, myself. I don't think this generation has got as many as those types of players."

The seedings for Russia 2018 see England headline the second-tier Pot 2, alongside Spain.

South American giants Argentina and Brazil are in Pot 1, alongside European heavyweights Germany, France, Belgium and Portugal, hosts Russia and Fifa's No. 6 ranked-side Poland.

Italian conquerors Sweden are in Pot 3 while Nigeria, who beat Argentina 4-2 on Wednesday morning, look to be most dangerous team in lowest seeded Pot 4.

Argentina's top-tier seeding might have seen them avoid many of football's heavy hitters, but star player Lionel Messi is more keen on avoiding 2010 world champions Spain.

He told TyC Sports: "I would prefer to avoid Spain because of the way they play.

"They would be a tough rival. The favourites are Spain, Brazil, Germany, France... They're the countries in the best form."

German Rudi Voeller, who won the World Cup as a player in 1990 and lost the final in 2002 as a manager, acknowledged that Die Mannschaft are "big favourites".

He said: "Our guys are definitely the big favourites, with Spain and France, (and) maybe England, who have a very good team, and Belgium." - WIRE SERVICES

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