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nalysis From Rory Smith in Moscow: By Far The Biggest Reaction Inside

the hall was seeing Portugal grouped with Spain, and with good reason. The Portuguese, it’s fair to say, have drawn the short straw among the top seeds. Most of the others will be relatively happy: Brazil,FIFA World Cup 2018 Football Live Today Match
Germany and France, the other major contenders, have avoided the worst of the traps. Belgium and England makes for a finely poised group. And Uruguay will be absolutely delighted to have drawn Russia.

On to Pot 2 now.

Uruguay is the first team out, and they get dropped in with Russia in Group A. (From Rory: So Russia get Uruguay from Pot 2. Or, more accurately, Uruguay get Russia, by far the easiest of the top seeds.)

Spain is next, and will play its neighbor Portugal in the first game in Group B.

Peru goes in Group C with France. FIFA 2018 World Cup Highlights Video
Didier Deschamps is probably fine with that

Croatia in with Argentina in Group D. That’s an unlucky draw for Messi and Co., made worse by Lineker cracking about Maradona being good with his hands as he pulls the team out. Ouch.

Switzerland into Group E with Brazil. Gulp.

Mexico thrown in with the Germans in Group F.

England in Group G with Belgium, and Colombia in H with Poland.

The hosts are on stage. Here we go.

Gary Lineker reads out the teams and explains the rules, extending the interminable wait a little longer.

Remember, Russia will be placed first, as team A1, and play in the opening game.

First singing, now dancing ….

We promise there will be a draw today.

Infantino passing out compliments.

Infantino, steps away from Putin, praises his host country, saying Russia is ”a welcoming country, a warm country.”

Though not today; it’s in the 30s and snowing outside the hall.

At long last, the draw is under way.

Not the picking of teams, mind you. That will still be about 20 minutes — after Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, and FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, come onstage for speeches.

“The teams, the coaches, are all our friends,” Putin says.

Before we begin, a quick look at all 32 teams.

Unlike many who consume soccer for fun or for a living, Rory Smith of The Times is a big fan of draws, as he wrote in our weekly newsletter Thursday. (Related: you should definitely sign up for our weekly sports newsletter.)

“I love a draw,” Rory said WATCH FIFA 2018 World Cup Live Streaming
“I love the word ‘permutations.’ I love the sense that anything is possible. I love seeing that blank slate fill up. I love trying to work out what the best games will be and whose path to the semifinals, to the final, to glory, might be easiest and which most strewn with complication.

And I love the mystery of the World Cup draw. We are saturated with soccer now: We can watch all of the world’s best players every week. Only at the World Cup do players from nowhere suddenly burst to life, and teams — Tunisia, Iran, even Russia itself — from isolated soccer cultures join the party. The draw is the start of that adventure into the unknown FIFA Today Match Highlights

Even if you don’t share Rory’s delight in a good draw, he broke down all 32 teams, this week, looking at their pasts, their paths and at what would qualify as a successful trip to Russia.


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