FIFA World Cup Draw 2018

There are some fascinating meetings ahead in the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with several high-ranking teams set to do battle in the hope of progressing. 2014 World Cup winners and current holders Germany are drawn against Sweden and Mexico in Group F.

England have been handed an extremely difficult tie against Belgium in Group G. In Group B, Spain and reigning European champions Portugal are drawn together, while in group E Brazil face Costa Rica and Serbia. France, meanwhile, will play Australia and Denmark, and Argentina are set to lock horns with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

Where and When Was the World Cup Finals Draw Made?

The draw for the FIFA 2018 World Cup Finals took place on December 1st 2017, in the spectacular and ornate surroundings of the Kremlin, in Moscow. The State Kremlin Palace – built in 1961 and holding around 6000 people – is no stranger to such lavish and stately events – having hosted concerts by the likes of Elton John, Pavarotti and Cher in recent years.

Eagerly anticipated by football fans the world over, the draw itself was broadcast live on numerous digital TV channels, as well as being streamed online. The group draw, which was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, and a host of dignitaries from the world of international football – including former Argentina World Cup-winning playmaker Diego Maradona – was a fine example of the kind of glittering ceremony now deemed necessary to mark such an important and auspicious occasion. Also in attendance, as the draw was made, was England manager Gareth Southgate, who commented afterwards on England’s chances: ‘We were knocked out by Costa Rica in the World Cup, and we were knocked out by Iceland in the European Championships, both of whom we were expected to beat – so we have to handle that tag of being favourites, and we have to make sure our preparation is spot on’.

How Did the World Cup Draw Work?

The draw for the World Cup group stages featured only the teams who made it through the preceding qualifying rounds, as well as Russia – who qualified automatically as hosts when they were awarded the chance to stage the competition back in 2010.

The top teams from the European qualifying rounds all made it through to the World Cup Finals draw, with the eight best runners-up going into four play-off matches (played over two legs). These four play-off winners also progressed to the Finals group stage draw. In addition, there were the teams who progressed from the other various football confederations: Africa (CAF) had five qualifying-group winners; Asia (AFC) had two group-winning teams and two runners-up (with the best of the third-placed teams going to an ‘intercontinental play-off’); from North, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) the top three nations qualified – with the fourth going to another play-off.

From Oceania (OFC), the overall winner progressed to another play-off, while from South America (CONMEBOL) the top four teams automatically progressed – with the fifth featuring in yet another two-legged intercontinental play-off. From these 32 qualifying nations, the 2018 World Cup Finals draw was made – with the teams each allocated one of four separate pots based on their official FIFA rankings. F

From these pots, the teams were drawn into eight separate groups of four teams – with each team to play the others in its group. Only the top two teams from each of these miniature leagues will progress to the knockout stages.

Which Teams Have Qualified for the World Cup?

The list of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup Finals includes many of the expected big-name teams. Brazil, for example, who have won the tournament an astonishing five times, will feature, alongside their South-American rivals Argentina – captained by five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.

Brazil and Argentina will be joined by fellow CONMEBOL nations Columbia, Uruguay and Peru. From Europe, England, Germany and Spain are joined by France, Portugal, Serbia, Poland, Belgium and Iceland – with Italy notably missing out this year.

The play-off winners from the European qualifiers were Switzerland, Croatia, Denmark and Sweden. From Africa, Tunisia, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal and Egypt were the nations to qualify, while from Asia, Iran, South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia are the teams to have made it through.

From the CONCACAF federation, which includes Central America and the Caribbean, the USA have failed to progress beyond the qualifiers – with Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama being the ones to make it through. Finally, there are the winners of the intercontinental play-offs (Australia – who defeated Honduras over two legs), and host nation Russia – who make up the 32 teams in total.