Jose Mourinho has backed England for World Cup glory, claiming Gareth Southgate’s young squad has enough top-level experience to be a success on the biggest stage.
Southgate has taken a relatively inexperienced group of players to Russia compared to previous tournaments, with Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere among the big names left out.
England face Tunisia in their opening game on Monday, with Panama and star-studded Belgium their other opponents in Group G.
But Mourinho, whose Manchester United players Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Marcus Rashford are all in the squad, feels England have the talent to go all the way.
“I think they can [win the World Cup. I think they have a good group of young but experienced players,” Mourinho said.
“They’re at a good age but good level of experience, all of them. They play in the best domestic competition in the world, the Premier League.
“All of them playing in the best teams, all of them with experience of playing Champions League which is high level football obviously. So yes I think they can do it.”
One session closer to the @FIFAWorldCup kick-off… #threelions pic.twitter.com/r1lKquPNjG
— England (@England) June 14, 2018
England are not among the favourites for this year’s tournament, with the likes of Spain, Argentina, France, Brazil and World Cup holders Germany judged to be ahead in the pecking order.
However, Mourinho believes good strength in depth does not always result in success in tournament football.
“The [favourites] have good squads, but good squads don’t always make good teams. And sometimes not so special squads in theory can make better teams,” he added.
“But I don’t expect a big surprise. I think the top teams in South America and the top teams in Europe will be the ones fighting for the title.”