World Cup 2018 draw lowdown
The draw for the group stages of World Cup 2018 in Russia produced a number of eye-catching groups.
The 32 teams now who they will face in the group stage, here is how the draw panned out:
Russia, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
The home nation was drawn against South American giants Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The group is a favourable one for Russia, who failed to win any of their group games four years ago.
Uruguay finished fourth in South Africa and are two-time winners, having won the first-ever World Cup back in 1930 and triumphing in the 1950 edition in Brazil.
Saudi Arabia have failed to qualify for the World Cup since 2006 in Germany. Their best performance at the event remains making the knockout stages in 1994.
Egypt have only ever made the World Cup twice, once in 1934 when they exited at the first round and then in 1990 when the African nation went out in the group stages of the competition.
Iran, Morocco, Portugal, Spain
Neighbours Spain and Portugal will be favourites to make it out of the group, as the pair should be fighting out to win the group.
However, Morocco could be a surprise package under boss Herve Renard. In four World Cup appearances, the best the African nation has achieved is making it to the knockout stages in 1986.
Iran will be looking to improve on their appearance at World Cup 2014 where they picked up just one point from their three group games.
Australia, Denmark, France, Peru
France are the favourites to win the group and seen as contenders to lift the trophy by many. Denmark will also fancy their chances of making the knockout stages, despite the Scandinavians best performance coming in 1998 when they made the quarter-finals.
Australia have made it to the last three World Cup’s, with the highlight the Socceroo’s making it to the knockout stages in 2006.
Peru have played in four World Cup’s, recording just four wins in those four tournament appearances.
Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria
Argentina heads into this competition as one of the hot favourites to win the World Cup, despite struggling to qualify for Russia 2018.
Iceland were the surprise package at Euro 2016 and will make their first-ever appearance at a World Cup. The Nordic nation will also be the smallest nation to play at World Cup finals.
Nigeria have qualified for four of the last five World Cup’s, with their biggest achievement making the knockout stages in USA, France and Brazil four years ago.
Croatia have also featured in four of the last five World Cups. Their best ever finish came in France ’98, finishing third-place in their first World Cup an as independent nation.
Brazil, Costa Rica, Serbia, Switzerland
Brazil are not only favourites to win the group, but also one of the teams fancied to lift the trophy July. It would be a major surprise if the Selecao did not win the group.
Serbia have made the World Cup just once in their current guise, where they failed to make it out of the group stages in 2010.
Switzerland have made the last three World Cup’s, with their best performance coming in 2006 and 2014 when they made the last 16.
Costa Rica will be looking to once again make it to the last eight just as they did four years ago in Brazil.
Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden
Mexico, South Korea and Sweden will all be eying up the other qualification spot for the knockout stages. Mexico have failed to progress beyond the last 16 on foreign soil, although the Tricolour did make the last eight on home soil in 1970 and 1986.
Sweden and South Korea have both also achieved their best finishes on home soil, finishing as runners-up in 1958 and fourth place in 2002 respectively.
Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama
The two European teams will be the favourites to qualify for the knockout stages. In fact, Belgium are one of the favourites to win the trophy. England failed to get out of the group four years ago and have struggled to have an impact at major tournaments in recent years.
Tunisia are playing at their first World Cup since 2006, while Panama will be making their debut appearance at a World Cup finals.
Colombia, Japan, Poland, Senegal
Arguably the most difficult group to call, all four teams will feel they have a chance to make it to the knockout stages. Colombia produced their best ever performance at a World Cup by making the quarter-finals four years ago.
Poland’s best ever performances came as they finished third in 1974 and 1982. However, they have failed to qualify for the last two World Cups. Senegal have only qualified once for a World Cup but made a big impact as the African side made it to the last eight in the 2002 edition. Japan have qualified for the last five World Cups. However, their biggest achievement is making the knockout stages in 2002 and 2010.