The group draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia took place Friday morning at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow. Here are the results:
Group A: Russia, Saudia Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
Five big games to watch
(In chronological order. All times listed are Eastern.)
Portugal vs. Spain: Friday, June 15 at Sochi, 2 p.m.
Argentina vs. Iceland: Saturday, June 16 at Moscow (Spartak Stadium), 9 a.m.
Germany vs. Mexico: Sunday, June 17 at Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium), 11 a.m.
Brazil vs. Costa Rica: Friday, June 22 at St. Petersburg, 8 a.m.
England vs. Panama: Sunday, June 24 at Nizhny Novgorod, 8 a.m.
Unusually, there isn't really a Group of Death in this World Cup. The closest might be Group E, with Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia. Brazil will obviously be favored, but any of the other three teams could advance too.
Host Russia has a very easy group, starting with Saudi Arabia in the tournament's opening game. Uruguay should win it, but Russia will have a good chance to advance. Egypt, led by star striker Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) will be the main challenger. Egypt's game vs. Saudi Arabia will draw interest from fans of politics, not just fans of soccer.
Peru, playing in its first World Cup since 1982, will have a great chance to get out of its group. The game against France will be a lot of fun. Australia will have to pull off some huge upsets to have any shot at advancing.
Nigeria was drawn with Argentina for the third consecutive World Cup. The two nations were also in the same group in 2002 and 1994.
Mexico should have a pretty good shot at advancing to the knockout rounds, especially because it plays Germany first. The game against Sweden — which knocked out Italy in a World Cup qualifying playoff — will be tricky, but winnable.
England got a spectacularly easy draw. Obviously the Belgium game will be tough, but it will be at the end of the stage. If they can beat Panama and Tunisia, they'll be in very good shape heading into the finale. But if Panama can spring an upset, it will be great theater. Expect Panama to win attention from a lot of fans of underdogs in the United States.
(And expect many U.S. fans to wonder what could have been if their team was in this group instead.)
Poland is the top-seeded team in Group H, but might not be the favorite to win it. If Colombia is fully healthy, stars James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich) and Juan Cuadrado (Juventus) could take first place. That said, Poland will have tens of thousands of fans crossing the border into Russia to cheer them on.
Full group stage schedule
(All times are Eastern.)
11 a.m.: A1. Russia vs. A2. Saudi Arabia at Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium)
8 a.m.: A3. Egypt vs. A4. Uruguay at Yekaterinburg
11 a.m.: B3. Morocco vs. B4. Iran at St. Petersburg
2 p.m.: B1. Portugal vs. B2. Spain at Sochi
6 a.m.: C1. France vs. C2. Australia at Kazan
9 a.m.: D1. Argentina vs. D2. Iceland at Moscow (Spartak Stadium)
12 p.m.: C3. Peru vs. C4. Denmark at Saransk
3 p.m.: D3. Croatia vs. D4. Nigeria at Kaliningrad
8 a.m.: E3. Costa Rica vs. E4. Serbia at Samara
11 a.m.: F1. Germany vs. F2. Mexico at Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium)
2 p.m.: E1. Brazil vs. E2. Switzerland at Rostov-on-Don
8 a.m.: F3. Sweden vs. F4. South Korea at Nizhny Novogorod
11 a.m.: G1. Belgium vs. G2. Panama at Sochi
2 p.m.: G3. Tunisia vs. G4. England at Volgograd
8 a.m.: H3. Colombia vs. H4. Japan at Saransk
11 a.m.: H1. Poland vs. H2. Senegal at Moscow (Spartak Stadium)
2 p.m.: A1. Russia vs. A3. Egypt at St. Petersburg
8 a.m.: B1. Portugal vs. B3. Morocco at Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium)
11 a.m.: A4. Uruguay vs. A2. Saudi Arabia at Rostov-on-Don
2 p.m.: B4. Iran vs. B2. Spain at Kazan
8 a.m.: C4. Denmark vs. C2. Australia at Samara
11 a.m.: C1. France vs. C3. Peru at Yekaterinburg
2 p.m.: D1. Argentina vs. D3. Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod
8 a.m.: E1. Brazil vs. E3. Costa Rica at St. Petersburg
11 a.m.: D4. Nigeria vs. D2. Iceland at Volgograd
2 p.m.: E4. Serbia vs. E2. Switzerland at Kaliningrad
8 a.m.: G1. Belgium vs. G3. Tunisia at Moscow (Spartak Stadium)
11 a.m.: F4. South Korea vs. F2. Mexico at Rostov-on-Don
2 p.m.: F1. Germany vs. F3. Sweden at Sochi
8 a.m.: G4. England vs. G2. Panama at Nizhny Novgorod
11 a.m.: H1. Poland vs. H3. Colombia at Kazan
2 p.m.: H4. Japan vs. H2. Senegal at Yekaterinburg
10 a.m.: A2. Saudi Arabia vs. A3. Egypt at Volgograd
10 a.m.: A4. Uruguay vs. A1. Russia at Samara
2 p.m.: B4. Iran vs. B1. Portugal at Saransk
2 p.m.: B2. Spain vs. B3. Morocco at Kaliningrad
10 a.m.: C2. Australia vs. C3. Peru at Sochi
10 a.m.: C4. Denmark vs. C1. France at Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium)
2 p.m.: D2. Iceland vs. D3. Croatia at Rostov-on-Don
2 p.m.: D4. Nigeria vs. D1. Argentina at St. Petersburg
10 a.m.: F4. South Korea vs. F1. Germany at Kazan
10 a.m.: F2. Mexico vs. F3. Sweden at Yekaterinburg
2 p.m.: E2. Switzerland vs. E3. Costa Rica at Nizhny Novgorod
2 p.m.: E4. Serbia vs. E1. Brazil at Moscow (Spartak Stadium)
10 a.m.: H4. Japan vs. H1. Poland at Volgograd
10 a.m.: H2. Senegal vs. H3. Colombia at Samara
2 p.m.: G4. England vs. G1. Belgium at Kaliningrad
2 p.m.: G2. Panama vs. G3. Tunisia at Saransk
From here on, group designations refer to finishing place.
Round of 16
10 a.m.: 1C. vs. 2D. at Kazan
2 p.m.: 1A. vs. 2B. at Sochi
10 a.m.: 1B. vs. 2A. at Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium)
2 p.m.: 1D. vs. 2C. at Nizhny Novgorod
10 a.m.: 1E. vs. 2F. at Samara
2 p.m.: 1G. vs. 2H. at Rostov-on-Don
10 a.m.: 1F. vs. 2E. at St. Petersburg
2 p.m.: 1H. vs. 2G. at Moscow (Spartak Stadium)
10 a.m.: 1C. or 2D. vs. 1A. or 2B. at Nizhny Novgorod (Game 57)
2 p.m.: 1E. or 2F. vs. 1G. or 2H. at Kazan (Game 58)
10 a.m.: 1F. or 2E. vs. 1H. or 2G. at Samara (Game 60)
2 p.m.: 1B. or 2A. vs. 1D. or 2C. at Sochi (Game 59)
2 p.m.: Game 57 winner vs. Game 58 winner at St. Petersburg
2 p.m.: Game 59 winner vs. Game 60 winner at Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium)
Third place game
8 a.m.: Semifinal 1 loser vs. Semifinal 2 loser at St. Petersburg
11 a.m.: Semifinal 1 winner vs. Semifinal 2 winner at Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium)