World Cup draw: Who is in each pot and how will it work?

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World Cup draw: Who is in each pot and how will it work?

World Cup qualifying has ended and we now know all 32 teams who will compete at next summer’s finals in Russia.

Who’s qualified?

From Europe, hosts Russia and group winners Belgium, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Serbia and Spain are joined by play-off victors Croatia, Denmark Sweden and Switzerland.

Africa’s representatives are Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. From North and Central America and the Caribbean, it is Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama.

South America’s sides are Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay. And the Asian qualifiers are Australia, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

When is the draw and how does it work?

The World Cup finals draw is on Friday, 1 December at Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace concert hall at 15:00 GMT.


Teams will be seeded based on the October 2017 Fifa world rankings. There are four pots – each containing eight teams. Russia will be joined in pot one by the seven highest-ranked teams, with the next eight in pot two, the following eight in pot three and the lowest ranked eight in pot four.

No teams from the same confederation, with the exception of Uefa, will be drawn in the same group. A maximum of two European countries can be in any group.

The guests at the draw will include representatives from each of the eight nations to have won the World Cup: Laurent Blanc (France), Gordon Banks (England), Cafu (Brazil), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Diego Maradona (Argentina), Carles Puyol (Spain) and Miroslav Klose (Germany)

So who could England be drawn in a group with?

England will be seeded among the second batch of teams, which means they will definitely not play Spain, who are also among the second seeds, in the pool stage.

A tough scenario would see them drawn in the same group as five-time winners Brazil, seven-time Africa Cup of Nations champions Egypt, and Serbia.

An easier draw, on paper, would see them in a group with Poland, Iran and Panama.

Who are the favourites to win the tournament?

Defending champions Germany are the bookmakers’ favourites, followed by Brazil, Spain, Argentina, France, Belgium and then England.

Joachim Low’s Germany are bidding to become the first country to win back-to-back World Cups since Pele’s Brazil in 1958 and 1962.

Who impressed most in qualifying?

Germany have not lost a World Cup finals or qualifying game since the 2010 semi-final against Spain. They came through 2018 qualifying with 10 wins from 10 – scoring 43 times and only conceding on four occasions.

Belgium, Spain and England all came through European qualifying unbeaten too.

Brazil cruised through South American qualifying – but only after replacing manager Dunga with Tite midway through the campaign. They had only won one of their opening six qualifiers, but under Tite they won 10 and drew two of their final 12 games to finish 10 points clear.

In Asia, Iran came through two different groups unbeaten – 18 games without defeat that included a run of 12 consecutive clean sheets.

Morocco qualified without conceding a goal in their six-game African group, finishing top ahead of Ivory Coast.

Who will be making their World Cup debuts?

Iceland are the only country with a population of under one million to have ever reached a World Cup. The Nordic nation had never qualified for a major tournament before Euro 2016, when they beat England on their way to the quarter-finals.

Central American nation Panama reached their first World Cup thanks to an 88th-minute winner against Costa Rica, which also eliminated the United States.

Who are the biggest nations to miss out?

The biggest shock of the qualifying campaign came from Europe.

Four-time winners Italy missed out on a World Cup for the first time since 1958, losing to Sweden in their play-off.

The Swedes had reached the play-off on goal difference in their group ahead of the Netherlands, meaning the Dutch have failed to qualify for the past two major tournaments.

The Czech Republic, Wales, Scotland, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey were among the other countries to miss out in the group stages – with the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Greece losing in the play-offs.

In the Concacaf region the United States finished below Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras as they failed to secure even a play-off berth. It is the first time since 1986 that they will not compete at a World Cup.

The Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana – all of whom were in Brazil in 2014 – were among the big African nations to miss out.

Chile, ranked ninth in the world, went out in South American qualifying, missing out on a play-off on goal difference to 10th-ranked Peru.