2018 FIFA World Cup: Analysing the draw
The 2018 FIFA World Cup draw is now official and all eight groups have been confirmed. Let's take a quick look to analyse which team had better luck in the first round.
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Russia and Uruguay clearly appear as favourites here, and Los Charruas could be considered the top team in the group based on the strength of their squad. However, no one should sleep on Egypt since they have an experienced manager in Hector Cuper, and one of the best wingers in the world in Mohamed Salah. The hosts should battle with Egypt for the second place of the Group, while Saudi Arabia will have a hard time earning even one point based on the squad's lack of experience.
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
All eyes in the world will be on the matchup between Portugal and Spain, as these two teams have quite a rivalry in the UEFA region. Both teams shouldn't have problems to reach the next round, though, as neither Morocco or Iran should pose much of a problem. The real battle will be to see which team gets the top spot, and the Iberic duel between Cristiano Ronaldo's team and Julen Lopetegui's side will play a deciding factor in that race.
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
France and Denmark once again collide after meeting in the same group during the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Could that be the first of many consequences that could lead France to their second World Cup title? Les Bleus are massive favourites here, although the battle for the second spot will be a fierce one. Australia, Peru and Denmark all reached the World Cup via playoffs. Peru could turn a few heads and surprise the world, but most of their luck depends on what happens with Paolo Guerrero who is currently suspended due to an ongoing doping investigation.
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Argentina struggled to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup after needing a win in the final game of the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers, and they won't have an easy path in the Group Stage on Russian soil, either. Croatia must be one of the most underrated teams in the world, Iceland already stunned the world in the 2016 European Championship and have nothing to lose, and Nigeria has enough players to pull an upset. But if logic stands by here, then La Albiceleste and the two European sides should battle for the two top spots.
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Brazil was one of the most dominant teams in the World Cup Qualifiers and were rewarded with a relatively easy group featuring two small European sides (Switzerland and Serbia) and a CONCACAF side that lack experience such as Costa Rica. Tite's men shouldn't have problems to reach not only the knockout stages, but the nature of the draw puts them ahead to make a deep title run with relative ease.
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Could this group be the Group Of Death? The reigning World Champions look like the best team on paper, but they won't have an easy road here. Mexico has enough experience to potentially cause an upset, Sweden is coming off a historical elimination of Italy in the playoffs, and South Korea are one of the best teams in the Asian region thanks to the presence of Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-Min. Germany are favourites, but the battle for the second place will be a close one that no football fan will like to miss.
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Belgian and English fans should be extremely happy given the group they got squared in. Even though both teams are likely to fight for the top spot in the group, it's quite unlikely that one of them is going to miss reaching the knockout stages. Panama will play in their first World Cup and do not have a very strong team, while Tunisia were one of the surprises in the African region and shouldn't pose much of a threat to better, more experienced sides such as The Red Devils or The Three Lions. The game between England and Belgium could easily be one of the best during the entire Group Stage.
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
It's extremely hard to predict how things will happen during this group. All four teams are similar on the strength of their squads, and all four could make a case to deserve a spot in the next round. Poland has Robert Lewandowski, Senegal are widely considered the top African team, Colombia has James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao leading an extremely talented team, and Japan have a relatively young core making noise in some of Europe's top leagues. Colombia, Senegal and Poland appear to have an edge on paper, but we won't know for sure which side will come out on top here until the ball starts rolling.