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England have drawn Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in their group for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while defending champions Germany will face Mexico, Sweden and Korea Republic in Russia.
Five-time winners Brazil, who came top in South American qualifying, have been drawn in Group E with Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
Here are all eight groups:
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay.
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Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Iran.
Who wins Group B? ???????? https://t.co/xU0U1PUTnY
Group C: France, Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Group C is set! ???????? https://t.co/vDn3DZCrse
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.
Group D: Messi, Gylfi, Luka, Iwobi. ???????? https://t.co/LZzWDorxd9
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
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Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden and Korea Republic.
2014 champions Germany head up Group F! ???????? https://t.co/dzrAkdX1UB
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England.
Who wins Group G? ??????? https://t.co/GwVOqH8BZy
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
Group H—the hipster’s choice ????????? https://t.co/Qlnv2TKRU0
The 32 teams will battle it out next year over the course of the month-long competition, which will begin with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14 and end with the final on Sunday, July 15.
FIFA provided the complete schedule, including the bracket, on its official website.
Match-ups to Watch
The draw has provided some exciting fixtures, but the pick of the bunch has to be Spain and Portugal being drawn together again in Group B.
As shown by B/R Football, it’s the opening game in the group in Sochi and will see Cristiano Ronaldo face off against some of his Real Madrid team-mates such as Isco and Sergio Ramos:
The game will also bring back memories of FIFA World Cup 2010, when the two sides met in Cape Town and David Villa’s goal sent La Roja into the quarter-finals.
Two other teams who will know each other well clash again as Lionel Messi’s Argentina were drawn against Nigeria yet again, in Group D.
This will be the fifth time the two sides have met in the last seven World Cups. B/R Football show how Argentina have yet to lose to the Super Eagles:
Elsewhere in Group A it’s all about Liverpool, as former striker Luis Suarez’s Uruguay team take on Mohamed Salah’s Egypt.
Salah is enjoying a superb season at Anfield, currently the Premier League’s top scorer, with the two teams set to clash at the Ekaterinburg Arena on Saturday, 15 June 2018:
The Premier League will also be well-served when England take on Belgium in Group G.
As shown by B/R Football, the Belgian Red Devils have a team packed full of Premier League superstars and will know all about Gareth Southgate’s side:
Friday’s draw has already provided some intriguing fixtures, and the excitement should increase after the group stages when the tournament switches to a knockout format.
Brazil Aiming for World Cup Redemption
Brazil’s enduring memory of the last World Cup, which they hosted, will be the 7-1 defeat doled out to them by eventual champions Germany in the semi-finals of the competition.
The difficult times for the Selecao didn’t end there, though, as they subsequently failed to impress at the 2015 and 2016 Copas America.
In the former, Brazil exited in the quarter-finals at the hands of Paraguay, while in the latter, they failed to escape the group stage for the first time since 1987.
However, things are looking bright for them under Tite, who has transformed their outlook since taking charge last year and is beginning to get the best out of a promising generation of players including the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Neymar and Philippe Coutinho.
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The Selecao cruised through qualifying, losing just one of 18 matches, and finishing top of the CONMEBOL standings by 10 points.
They’re among the favourites heading into Russia, and they’ll be looking to redeem themselves after the last World Cup.
Brazil have been drawn in Group E and will face Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia, but they should still be capable of getting to the knockout stages and beyond.
Switzerland finished behind Portugal in their World Cup group but saw off Northern Ireland in a qualifier to take their place in Russia, while Costa Rica also finished second in CONCACAF qualifying behind Mexico.
Brazil’s toughest opponents may well be Serbia, who topped Group D and can call upon players such as Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic and Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
It will be particularly fascinating if they face Germany again.
Die Mannschaft warmed up for the competition by winning the Confederations Cup in the summer with what amounted to a reserve team, while last year they reached the semi-finals of the 2016 UEFA European Championship.
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They breezed through qualification with 10 wins from 10, scoring 43 goals in the process and conceding just four.
They will be tested fully in Russia after being handed a tough draw in Group F alongside Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.
Germany will open their campaign against Mexico who topped CONCACAF qualifying, five points clear with just one defeat in 10 games.
Sweden will also prove stiff opposition, they may have had to come through qualifying to take their place in Russia, but produced a shock by upsetting four-time winners Italy over two legs.
The final group fixture will see Germany take on South Korea, who will be considered the weakest team in the group having qualified in second place behind Iran in Asian Group A.
The team’s superstar is Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min but the squad overall lacks quality, particularly in attack, and expectations will be low going into the tournament.
Perennial tournament contenders, the Germans will be worth keeping an eye on as always.