14/11/2018
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FIFA World Cup 2018: See Group table

Group A analysis: balance, and two bad teams.

Teams: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

From Rory Smith in Moscow: The opening game of the World Cup will be Russia against Saudi Arabia: or, to put it another way, the two worst teams in the tournament, according to the FIFA rankings. The group is quite nicely balanced, though: Uruguay will expect to make the last 16, but both Russia and Egypt will have hopes of joining them.

Russia President Vladimir Putin, right, and FIFA President Gianni Infantino opened the draw. Putin, whose country is facing a doping ban from the Olympics, spoke about the spirit of “fair play” in welcoming all the entrants to Russia next summer. CreditGrigory Dukor/Reuters

Group B analysis: two favorites, and no guarantees.

Teams: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco

From Rory Smith: Not as bad as it might have been for Portugal and Spain. Both will expect to make it through — though Morocco is not to be underestimated — in a group that also includes Iran. Finishing on top here might prove crucial as the tournament’s knockout round takes shape.

 

Group C analysis: dream group for France.

Teams: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia

From Rory Smith: If France had imagined an ideal group, it would have been this. Peru was among the weakest of the second seeds, Australia does not have a coach, and Denmark should not trouble them too much. Second place could be intriguing, though.

Group D analysis: the most interesting group, for sure.

Teams: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria

From Rory Smith: Probably the most delicately balanced, most interesting, and most competitive of all the groups. Argentina only just qualified, Croatia has an abundance of individual talent, Iceland a tremendous collective strength and Nigeria was, possibly, the toughest fourth seed to draw. Argentina will not be happy at all.

Group E analysis: a battle for second?

Teams: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

From Rory Smith: Brazil will not be nearly as happy as France, however. Serbia, Switzerland and Costa Rica is a relatively kind section for Tite’s team. The battle to join them in the last 16 will be absolutely fascinating, however: there is not much between those three teams. And there may not be many goals between them, either.

Group F analysis: the champions should be happy.

Teams: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

From Rory Smith: Like France and Brazil, Germany has nothing to complain about: Sweden is hard-working but limited, and neither South Korea nor Mexico have the quality to derail the reigning champion.

Group G analysis: Two favorites and two sleepers.

Teams: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama

From Rory Smith: It should be a straight shootout between England and Belgium to see who claims the top spot and, with it, a theoretically easier second-round fate. The main advantage Panama and Tunisia have is that both will, to some extent, be unknown quantities.

Group H analysis: the most open group of all?

Teams: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan

From Rory Smith: Along with Group A, Group H seems the most evenly spread. Poland was among the weakest top seeds, and Colombia will harbor ambitions of finishing first. Japan and Senegal, though, will both see the Round of 16 as a real possibility now.

Germany and Brazil installed as the early betting favorites.

No United States, so no World Cup for you? Not so fast there — you can make your viewing experience more vital with a bet on who’s going to win it all. The rest of the world can’t wait to hustle to the betting windows on the beautiful game’s premier showcase.

Germany and Brazil are the current 5-1 co-favorites, according to the British bookmaker Paddy Power, which also rates France (6-1), Spain (13-2) and Argentina (8-1) as serious contenders. The home team, Russia, is 33-1.

Iceland was given a 100-1 chance immediately after the draw, while Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Panama were the longest shots on the board at 500-1.

Looking for a live longshot? How about our neighbor to the South: Mexico is 100-1.

The final pot as it was drawn.

Saudi Arabia (wow) goes in Russia’s group, which already looks to be the easiest.

Serbia completes Group E, with Brazil.

Morocco in with Portugal and Spain in Group B.

Australia goes in Group C with France, Peru and Denmark. France is thrilled, surely, and everyone else thinks they have a shot, too.

Nigeria in Group D with Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.

Panama (this could have been you, USMNT) goes into Group G, with Belgium, Tunisia and England. Not a terrible draw for their debut. Good draw for England, too.

Korea (in F) and Japan (in H) complete the field.

Let the second-guessing, predictions and analysis commence!

The field after three pots were emptied.

Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Iran

Group C: France, Peru, Denmark

Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden

Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia

Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal

Analysis from Rory Smith: Before the draw, Pot 3 looked slightly and counterintuitively less dangerous than Pot 4; that holds true. Argentina and Croatia will have been disappointed to have drawn Iceland, and Poland, Senegal and Colombia should be fascinating to watch. But most of the top seeds will have been pleased with what they will face: Spain and Portugal, who have Iran, in particular.

Photo

The former Brazil defender Cafu with Senegal’s slip. Senegal went into the final group, with Poland, Colombia and Japan.CreditMladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On to Pot 3 now.

Egypt goes in with Russia and Uruguay in Group A.

Denmark is drawn next, but can’t go in Group B, so it’s place in C instead, with France. Ugh.

Iran fills the Group B spot.

Iceland is next out, in Group D with Argentina and Croatia. Harsh draw.

Costa Rica gets Brazil in Group E. That could have been you, America.

Sweden into Group F.

Tunisia with England, then Senegal.

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