The start of the World Cup is now less than 200 days away and Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace will host the draw for the 21st staging of the competition on Friday.
The teams that have made it to the World Cup finals in Russia have been sorted into four pots of eight with the hosts and the top seven ranked teams according to FIFA in the first one.
England, 18/1 to win the World Cup outright, are in the second pot, so could be drawn in the same group as Russia, holders Germany (5/1), Brazil (5/1), Euro 2016 winners Portugal (22/1), Argentina, who only confirmed their place in the tournament by winning their final qualifying match, Belgium, Poland and France (11/2), who are all in Pot One.
However, there is some good news for Gareth Southgate as his team cannot be in the same group as Spain as they are also in Pot Two, as are the likes of Croatia, Uruguay and Mexico.
Pot Three contains several teams that could cause a few upsets, including England’s Euro 2016 conquerors Iceland and Costa Rica, who reached the quarter-finals of the last World Cup.
Seven-time Africa Cup of Nations champions Egypt are also in Pot Three as are Iran, who were unbeaten in 18 qualifiers.
There are also some potential banana-skins in Pot Four including Serbia, who topped a qualifying group that included Wales, Republic of Ireland and Austria, as well as African teams Morocco and Nigeria and World Cup debutants Panama.
A Group of Death could include France, Spain, Egypt and Australia, while easier progress could be made from a group that includes Russia, Peru, Tunisia and Panama.
Despite the likes of the Netherlands, Italy, Cameroon and the USA not being involved in Russia it should be a brilliant competition with a Croatia team that includes the likes of Luka Modric, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic potential dark horses at 33/1.
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