The former Three Lions star believes the competition in Russia comes too soon for a blossoming England team as he picked his three favourites
Gary Lineker believes France have a strong enough squad to challenge alongside Germany and Brazi at the 2018 World Cup.
The former England striker will host the draw for the group stage of the tournament in Russia, where the Three Lions could be paired with one of Germany, France, Brazil, Portugal, Belgium and Argentina.
But with the likes of N’Golo Kante and Kylian Mbappe at Didier Deschamps’ disposal, Lineker sees Les Bleus as real contenders.
“It’s probably going to be the usual suspects: Brazil and Germany,” he told FIFA’s website. “You can’t rule them out, as history shows that they’ve always been successful.
“Spain will be competitive again, but if I had to pick a team right now, for the squad they have, then I’d go for France. Look at the players they’ve got: a good goalkeeper, a very strong defence and a very talented midfield. Kante is amazing! Up front they’ve got Mbappe, who’s a potential superstar. They’re in great shape and they’ll be right in the mix for sure.
Although Lineker sees a bright future for an England side that finished top of their qualifying group and drew with both Germany and Brazil in their most recent games, he does not expect a great deal of Gareth Southgate’s side next year.
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“I don’t think they’re among the favourites this time. We haven’t been for a while in fact,” he added. “We’ve got some talented players coming through, some very good young players, though next year is maybe going to come a bit too soon for them.
“They’ve had a lot of success at the U-17 and U-20 World Cups, but I don’t think it’s their time yet, though you never know.
“We’ll be competitive at this World Cup, which hasn’t been the case with us in recent times.”