Portugal, Spain favourites but Santos wary of Morocco and Iran

Portugal, Spain favourites but Santos wary of Morocco and Iran

Prediction: France is going to be the top seed in this group, and possibly come away with all nine points. We should not forget Nigeria, a traditionally tough African opponent.

However, Spain boss Lopetegui shot down any suggestions his side had been fortunate to avoid the likes of Germany or Brazil from pot one.

Interesting stat: Germany/West Germany have never failed to make it out of the first Group stage at a World Cup.

Argentine legend Diego Maradona draws England into Group G during the 2018 Fifa World Cup draw in Moscow.

After the World Cup final draw, speculations have begun to swirl over different teams' chances in the tournament's next phase.

As the host nation, Russian Federation automatically qualified, and was placed in the top seed for Group A, although they were the lowest ranked team. While the Luis Suarez-led Uruguay are favorites to top this group, it will be fascinating to see which team will also move on. Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia will open the tournament at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on June 14 (June 15 NZT). However, Egypt appears to be gaining strength, especially due to Mohamed Salah's impressive season so far at Liverpool FC.

Ronaldo's Group B battle against Spain and many of his Real Madrid teammates in Sochi on June 15 will be an early highlight of a tournament that was mapped out by Friday's draw in the Kremlin.

Iran national football team coach Carlos Queiroz says there are times when mouse escapes from cat.

Perhaps the "Group of Death" is Group C, featuring Peru, who knocked the All Whites out of contention in the intercontinental playoffs, the Socceroos from Australia, the 1998 World Cup champions France and European playoff winners Denmark. France is the dominant team with a squad full of young, vibrant players. And with 1/3 betting odds on Brazil, this price is nearly disrespecting towards the other three teams.

Nigeria's Super Eagles have to negotiate their way through a tough pairing with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland in Group D. "We've got to be prepared for every game", said Southgate, and England could in theory find themselves on a collision course with Germany and Spain later on if they do not win the group.

All of France was doing the thunder clap previous year as Iceland made waves in its first major tournament appearance, stunning England en route to the quarterfinals before succumbing to the host nation.

"Croatia has an excellent midfield, Nigeria is unpredictable and has some very fast players, and Iceland comes in with little pressure", Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said. Switzerland and Serbia are both solid squads, but Costa Rica will be the surprise again and advance behind Brazil.

This group is expected to be a direct shootout between the two European nations who will undoubtedly split first and second place in the group between them.

Germany were paired with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in Group F as Joachim Loew's men try to become the first nation to retain the title since Brazil in 1962. It could be a tighter game than many expect (there's only twelve places separating the teams in the latest Federation Internationale de Football Association world rankings), but England fans will take heart from the fact that the Tunisians have never won a match at the World Cup finals and England beat them 2-0 in their opening game in France in 1998.



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