Who can England face in the 2018 World Cup and when is the draw?

Mark Critchley
The Independent
England World Cup squad in full: Gareth Southgate names 23-man side plus stand-by list for Russia 2018
England World Cup squad in full: Gareth Southgate names 23-man side plus stand-by list for Russia 2018

England's attentions turn to next month’s World Cup draw in Moscow with November friendlies against Germany and Brazil out of the way.

Gareth Southgate’s side qualified with ease though England will be wary after suffering premature exits at each of the last two finals.

Both the 2010 and 2014 experiences showed that nothing can be taken for granted in tournament football, with England faltering against supposedly lesser opponents each time.

Even so, as the countdown to the draw commences, excitement builds - so who could England draw in the 2018 group stages?

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When is the draw?

The draw will take place on Friday 1 December at the Kremlin in Moscow.

How does it work?

The 32 qualified teams will be split into four seeded ‘pots’, with seedings based on Fifa’s world rankings.

Pot 1 contains the hosts Russia and the seven highest-ranked teams, Pot 2 includes the next highest-ranked teams and so on.

One team from each pot will be drawn into one of the eight World Cup groups - lettered A to H.

Russia, as hosts, will be drawn into Group A.

Are England seeded?

England will be in Pot 2 and are therefore effectively second seeds. They will be drawn alongside one team from each of the other three pots.

Who can England draw?

England will draw one team from each of the following pots.

Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France.

Pot 3: Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran.

Pot 4: Nigeria, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia.

Gareth Southgate’s side could also play one of the two nations that have qualified but are yet to be assigned a pot - Iceland and Serbia - although Iceland may yet be assigned to England’s pot, Pot 2.

There are also six teams - Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Australia, Honduras, New Zealand - who are still competing in qualifying.

Who can’t England draw?

England will not draw any team in Pot 2, with six other qualified nations assigned to the pot at the time of writing.

Also, if Peru qualify, they will be assigned to Pot 2 and would not be able to play England.

Cannot draw: Spain, Switzerland, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia.

Cannot draw but yet to qualify: Peru.

What is England’s best possible draw?

According to often-disputed Fifa’s world rankings, England’s best possible draw would include Russia, Senegal and Saudi Arabia.

What is England’s worst possible draw?

Again, according to Fifa’s world rankings, England’s worst possible draw would include Germany, Costa Rica and Nigeria.

However, it is easy to come up with draws which look just as competitive - if not more so - than the ‘worst’ offering from the rankings.

England could just as easily face Brazil, Sweden and Japan or Argentina, Iceland and South Korea.

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