England were handed a nightmare World Cup draw and will face 2006 champions Italy in their first game.
The Three Lions will also play Uruguay and Costa Rica after being drawn in Group D by World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst in Rio this afternoon.
Italy beat England on penalties at Euro 2012 and the teams will face each other in the Amazonian city of Manaus – with the game kicking off on June 15 at 2am GMT.
Boss Roy Hodgson said: “There weren’t many scenarios where you would be jumping for joy.
“It’s a tough group, a lot of people will say they are in tough groups but with Italy and Uruguay we almost have two No. 1 seeds in our group. Italy were unlucky not to be seeded.
“We know how good Italy are because we lost in the Euros last year. The good thing is we know each other and the game we have in the north, where the conditions will be tough, is against another European team so we’ll be in the same boat.
“To get one game which is a bit tougher doesn’t surprise me at all. Our great advantage, being based in Rio we only have one long trip.
“We could have had the games in the north and it would have been difficult.
“We’re here, we have an interesting group with three top quality opponents. I am certain they will attract big audiences around the world.”
Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere tweeted: “Tough group... But so what? If we want to win it we will have to play the best teams anyway!!"
Holders Spain are with the Netherlands – a repeat of the 2010 final which Spain won 1-0 – in Group B with Chile and Australia.
Hosts Brazil play Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon in Group A while in Group F Argentina have Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria.
USA boss Jurgen Klinsmann will manage against Germany – he won Euro '96 with Germany and Italia '90 with West Germany before unification – with the pair also playing Portugal and Ghana.
Colombia, Japan, Ivory Coast and Greece are in Group C, Switzerland, France, Ecuador and Honduras make up Group E and Belgium, South Korea, Russia and Algeria are in Group H.