The 2018 World Cup Draw took place just now at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow. The 32 teams that will compete next summer were drawn into 8 groups of 4.
Here are the 2018 World Cup groups, slotted from 1-4 (October 2017 FIFA World Ranking):
Group A: Russia (65), Saudi Arabia (63), Egypt (30), Uruguay (17)
Group B: Portugal (3), Spain (8), Morocco (48), Iran (34)
Group C: France (7), Australia (43), Peru (10), Denmark (19)
Group D: Argentina (4), Iceland (21), Croatia (18), Nigeria (41)
Group E: Brazil (2), Switzerland (11), Costa Rica (22), Serbia (38)
Group F: Germany (1), Mexico (16), Sweden (25), South Korea (62)
Group G: Belgium (5), Panama (49), Tunisia (28), England (12)
Group H: Poland (6), Senegal (32), Colombia (13), Japan (44)
Here are some initial thoughts on the groups:
Group A is the Group of Life. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay were the weakest or among the weakest teams in each pot. This is a favorable draw for the hosts, who are determined to get out of the group and avoid joining South Africa as the only hosts to not get out of the group stage at the World Cup.
The best opening match will be the Group B opener between Portugal and Spain. The Iberian Peninsula rivals are ranked 3rd and 8th in the world, respectively. Spain just missed out on being seeded, and this will be a tremendous match.
If there’s a Group of Death, it’s Group E. Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia. Those are all pretty good teams. Brazil shouldn’t have any trouble getting out of the group, but the other three are pretty evenly matched. Still, with the new pot alignments, we don’t really have a Group of Death yet. As we approach the World Cup and we see how teams are playing leading up to June, then we can re-evaluate.
Mexico will have a tougher go than they wanted. They begin in Group F with the #1 team in the world, Germany. Then, they will face South Korea and then end with Sweden. Those teams are going to give them problems, and Mexico shouldn’t think they’re going to waltz into the second round. Even if they get into the second round, a Brazil or Switzerland await them.
The pot system did its job, for the most part. These pots are pretty evenly distributed with the pots being arranged by ranking and not by confederation. On the flip side, there aren’t a lot of matches in the first round that will wow casual fans. Portugal-Spain, Germany-Mexico, Belgium-England, and France-Peru are the most intriguing matchups of the group stage.
Finally, the big teams are well positioned to go far. There may not be a lot of upsets once we get out of the group stage, but in the knockout stage there will be a lot of big-time matchups. In the end, this could be the World Cup where the quarterfinals are full of traditional powers. But, that’s why they play the games...a surprise could sneak through.
Hit the comments and let us know your thoughts on the World Cup Draw!