The host will face the Saudis, ranked 63rd, in the tournament's opening match where a win will be essential. Uruguay will be favourite to top the section with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani forming a fearsome attack although Egypt, back at the finals for the first time since 1990, boast Liverpool's prolific forward Mohamed Salah. Group B European champion Portugal and Spain meet in Sochi to kick off the group and while that is not the start either side would have wanted, they both should still make progress with Morocco, qualifier for the first time since 1998, and Iran, managed by Carlos Queiroz, the other sides involved.
Saudi Arabia in with Russia, Egypt and Uruguay. Saudi Arabia vs Russia in the World Cup opener. One for only the most eager football fans that one... #WorldCupDraw— UNILAD Football (@UNILADFooty) December 1, 2017
With players such as Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud in attack and Paul Pogba powering up the midfield Les Bleus should win the group with the other three scrapping for runners-up spot. Peru have qualified for the first time for 36 years. Group D Argentina made a meal of qualifying for the World Cup but were saved by a superb Lionel Messi hat-trick in their final game against Ecuador. Messi will be the key man as they navigate a group containing Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria.
Jorge Sampaoli on the World Cup:"For me Brazil, France and Spain are favourites. Don't ask me about Germany, I don't like how they play football." Bit rich coming from a bloke who's only tactic at the moment is "Give it Messi" pic.twitter.com/zMDNkrlSdL — Coral (@Coral) November 27, 2017
Iceland, sensations at Euro 2016 where they knocked out England to reach the quarter-finals, are the smallest nation by population ever to qualify but cannot be taken lightly while Croatia boast creative talents such as Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic. Group E Five-time champions Brazil will be heavy favourite to win the group, leaving Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in a battle to join them in the knockouts.
Argentina and Nigeria have been drawn together in the 2018 World Cup, 2014 World Cup, 2010 World Cup, 2002 World Cup and the 1994 World Cup. #WorldCupDraw— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) December 1, 2017
Costa Rica showed they can cause an upset at the 2014 tournament when they won a group that included England, Italy and Uruguay, while Serbia eased through a testing qualifying campaign. Group F Defending champion Germany are unlikely to fear a group that also features Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.
9,3% - Spain is the fitht team with the highest chance of winning the 2018 World Cup after Brazil (14,2%), Germany (11,4%), Argentina (10,9%) and France (10,5). Challenge pic.twitter.com/6OVafCAbf2— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 1, 2017
Sweden will be buoyed up after knocking out Italy in the playoffs, showing the sort of defensive mettle that can bring success in tournament football. Mexico are World Cup stalwart who have reached the last 16 in the previous six editions. Group G Belgium are the highest ranked team in the group that also features England, Tunisia and Panama. Roberto Martinez's side, however, have not beaten England in their last 11 meetings and only once in their history.
Germany in Group F. No team has ever won the World Cup when being drawn in Group F. #WorldCupDraw— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) December 1, 2017
England, who failed to get out of their group in 2014 and were knocked out by Iceland at the last European Championship, will have fond memories of beating Tunisia in the 1998 tournament, when manager Gareth Southgate played centre back. Group H Poland, spearheaded by Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and ranked seventh in the world, cruised through qualifying and will fancy their chances of topping a group that includes Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
NO DAYS OFF NEEDED ?? England ??????? at the World Cup...Tunisia ?? 18th June, Volgograd Monday, KO 7pm Panama ?? 24th June, Nizhny Sunday, KO 1pm Belgium ?? 28th June, Kaliningrad Thursday, 7pm#WorldCupDraw — Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) December 1, 2017