Damiao: England are not World Cup contenders

The Internacional striker is adamant Spain and Germany will carry the fight for Europe in Brazil next year, and warns Roy Hodgson's men could suffer at the Maracana on Sunday
Leandro Damiao insists England will not be among the teams fighting to win the World Cup in Brazil next year.

Roy Hodgson's men prepare to take on the Selecao in Rio's revamped Maracana stadium on Sunday knowing their qualification for the tournament remains far from assured.

And Damiao admits it is Spain and Germany who are expected to carry the fight for Europe next summer.

“I don’t see that there is any reason to fear England at the World Cup,” Damiao told reporters.

“Brazil always expect to win the World Cup - and even more so when it is being staged in our own country.

“And when you look at the nations who are a threat to us doing that, we don’t see England as one of them.

“Spain have dominated lately and Germany are clearly also a very powerful team. They are the teams who I think will be our major ­competition. I do not rate England to be anywhere near that level.”

Brazil are currently languishing in 19th in the Fifa rankings - their worst ever placing - but Damiao insists they are ready and capable of putting the hurt on England on Sunday.

“This is still a big game against England because we want our first game in the new stadium to be a victory,” he added.

“Also, everybody is trying to prove to the coach that they deserve to be in the team at the World Cup.

“Anybody who is given a chance to play has to take it - and if I am selected I will look to punish England.”