Germany will meet Mexico in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will open against neighbours Spain, after FIFA conducted the draw in Moscow on Friday.
Germany, winners of the 2014 event and FIFA’s top-ranked team, will face Mexico before taking on Sweden and South Korea in Group F.
Portugal and Spain, who haven’t played each other since Spain prevailed on penalties in the semifinals of Euro 2012, will meet in Group B alongside nearby Morocco as well as Iran, who are managed by Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz.
Despite being placed in the second pot of teams, England largely escaped a difficult draw and will face Belgium, Tunisia and Panama.
Hosts Russia, guaranteed a top seed despite being FIFA’s lowest-ranked team in the draw, will open the tournament against Saudi Arabia on June 14 at the 81,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, before taking on Uruguay and Egypt.
Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said of his side’s opponents: “We’ve never played any of these teams and I’ve never seen them. The only thing we know is that [Liverpool forward Mohamed] Salah plays for Egypt … and that [Edinson] Cavani and Luis [Suarez] play for Uruguay.”
The draw, with FIFA’s October rankings that were used for seedings:
- Group A: Russia (65), Uruguay (17), Egypt (30), Saudi Arabia (63)
- Group B: Portugal (3), Spain (8), Iran (34), Morocco (48)
- Group C: France (7), Peru (10), Denmark (19), Australia (43)
- Group D: Argentina (4), Croatia (18), Iceland (21), 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), England (12), Tunisia (28), Panama (49)
- Group H: Poland (6), Colombia (13), Senegal (32), Japan (44)
Lionel Messi and Argentina had one of the more difficult draws of the top seeds, getting two European teams — Croatia and debutants Iceland — as well as Nigeria. Iceland, the smallest nation to ever play at the World Cup, will play the two-time champions on June 16 at Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
Familiar foes Argentina and Nigeria are in the same World Cup group for the third straight time and for the fifth time since 1994.
Brazil, FIFA’s second-ranked team, escaped a major challenge and will face European sides Switzerland and Serbia in addition to Costa Rica.