Soccer-England's Southgate looking forward to 'high-level' Nations League group

Soccer Football - UEFA Nations League 2022/23 draw - Nyon, Switzerland - December 16, 2021 The UEFA Nations League trophy is pictured before the draw UEFA/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - England manager Gareth Southgate said being drawn against high-level opposition in the UEFA Nations League was good for their 2022 World Cup preparations after his side came out of the pot alongside Germany, Italy and Hungary.

"They are great fixtures to look forward to basically," Southgate said. "The Nations League and its format is geared towards these types of games.

"Whoever we drew out of the first two pots were going to be high-level opposition so that is what we wanted leading into a World Cup year.

"We have obviously played all these teams in the last 12 months and the only things are Germany have had a change of coach in that time, so I think they have evolved the way they have played since then."

England beat Germany in the knockout stages of Euro 2020 earlier this year before losing to Italy in the final at Wembley.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini echoed Southgate's comments, saying the group would set up entertaining fixtures.

"It's a great group. With England, Germany and Hungary there, it'll certainly be a fun one," Mancini told the Italian Football Federation website.

"Meeting teams as strong as this is part of the spectacle of football."

The Nations League group stage will be concluded before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while the semis and final for the top-tier League A will be played in June 2023.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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