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FIFA World Cup 2018 Group Stage Draw – As it happened

England get Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G.

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Sam Cooper 1st December 20174:00 PM

That brings us to an end of the draw and I quietly confident with that. Belgium will be tough but Southgate will be confident they can at least get second. Can it be June already?

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:59 PM

Here’s the draw in full

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:58 PM

So England’s Group G consists of Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. It may be the English optimism that naturally comes out before a major tournament but I think that could have been a lot worse. Given the Belgium game will be England’s last of the group, that may well be the decider for who tops the group.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:56 PM

The final team out are Japan and they complete Group H.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:56 PM

Korea Republic complete Group F

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:55 PM

1000-1 odds Panama go into England’s group G. Lads, I think it’s coming home.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:54 PM

Nigeria now and they go into Group D.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:54 PM

It’s the men down under now and they enter group C. Tough one that.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:53 PM

Morocco are into Group B

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:52 PM

Serbia have to enter into Group E due to other European teams.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:51 PM

Saudi Arabia are the first team out and they complete Group A. In fact they will be the opening game of the tournament against Russia.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:50 PM

Onto the final pot…

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:50 PM

Senegal complete pot 3 as they go into Group H with Poland and Colombia.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:50 PM

In fact they will be England’s opening game, marked as winnable for me.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:49 PM

England’s group now and it is Tunisia

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:49 PM

Sweden join Germany and Mexico in Group F.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:48 PM

Costa Rica enter into Group E

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:47 PM

They will open their World Cup against Messi’s Argentina.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:47 PM

England’s nemesis Iceland are into Group D

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:46 PM

Iran instead go into Group B

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:46 PM

Denmark, drawn next, skip into Group C as Group B already has two European teams (Portugal and Spain)

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:45 PM

So England can’t get another European team in this pot so I think Senegal is the most dangerous looking.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:45 PM

On to Pot 3 now and Egypt enter Group A with Russia and Uruguay.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:44 PM

Just a note, Belgium – England will be the last game of the group. Very much squeaky-bum time.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:44 PM

Colombia complete pot 2 as they enter Group H with Poland.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:43 PM

I am having vivid flashbacks of Hazard, please help us.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:43 PM

England join Group G with Belgium.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:42 PM

So England have a choice of Belgium or Poland.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:42 PM

Germany’s group now and it’s Mexico!

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:42 PM

Switzerland join Brazil meaning England will face either Germany, Belgium or Poland.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:41 PM

Here comes Croatia into Argentina’s Group D

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:40 PM

Peru are into Group C with France.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:39 PM

Group B quickly turning into a group of death. Portugal will face Spain in their opening game.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:39 PM

Next ball out is Spain into Portugal’s group. Tasty.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:39 PM

They means Russia – Uruguay will be the last game of that group.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:38 PM

Uruguay are first out and they’re into Group A with Russia.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:38 PM

Pot 1 is over and now it gets interesting. England’s pot remember.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:37 PM

The Russian FA Vice-President span the ball despite there being only one left in the bowl. Lovely stuff.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:37 PM

Belgium are the penultimate ball out as they enter Group G meaning Poland are into Group H.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:36 PM

Germany, Belgium and Poland are left and it’s Germany who are next out. They enter Group F

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:35 PM

Brazil are next out and into Group E

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:35 PM

Argentina into Group D. Diego Maradona nods in approvement.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:34 PM

France are into Group C, I have a sneaky feeling England will go into this group.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:33 PM

They go into Group B

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:33 PM

Now out comes Portugal

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:32 PM

No surprise as the first ball drawn is Russia who go into Group A

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:32 PM

Gary has explained the rules, the balls are about to be drawn

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:30 PM

Now I don’t want to accuse them of wrongdoing but Russia’s ball is literally red.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:29 PM

It’s starting!

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:28 PM

As such a staunch critic of FIFA, Lineker’s involvement in this is a bit odd.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:28 PM

Big Gaz emerges

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:27 PM

Diego Maradona has appeared and he is wearing a yellow bow tie. Yes Diego, yes.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:26 PM

Pre-draw quiz question for you: Which two players topped the FIFA 2014 World Cup European Qualification Goalscorers Table?


Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:24 PM

It’s a testament to how much we all love football that we put up with things like that but we’re now treated to a montage of World Cups past.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:23 PM

It’s finally over.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:23 PM

For the past two minutes, a woman in a red dress has twirled her way back and forth across the stage.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:21 PM

Meanwhile the Spanish federation president has literally fallen asleep.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:20 PM

Cuts to the faces in the crowd and Pele looks like he may be the most bored man on the planet.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:19 PM

My prediction of the first ball being drawn at 20 past may have been optimistic as there are no signs of the pots. Instead we have a group of Russian folk dancers.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:17 PM

Miroslav Klose is now on stage, perhaps the definition of a World Cup scorer.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:16 PM

Time for a musical preview which seems to be increasingly common in football events (remember when the Black Eyed Peas delayed the Champions League final, forever branded enemies of football)

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:10 PM

Here’s the pots.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:08 PM

The draw is a little confusing this year as no group can have a group with two teams from the same confederation. The exception to this rule is Europe where you can have up to two.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:02 PM

I just saw Peter Schmeichel help Lothar Matthäus out of a minibus which is a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20173:00 PM

If you fancy watching along live, the draw is on BBC Two.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20172:54 PM

You can expect the draw to be a rather lengthy affair given FIFA’s tendency to pad them out. So while the start time is supposedly set at 3 o’clock, don’t be surprised if the first ball isn’t drawn until about 20 past.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20172:53 PM

Fresh from his 57th birthday, Gary Lineker will be hosting the draw which makes place in Moscow.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20172:52 PM

England are in pot two.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20172:49 PM

For those unfamiliar with how it all works, there are four pots of eight teams sorted according to their FIFA ranking. Pot 1 contains hosts Russia along with the top rated seven teams and pot two the next seven etc. A ball will be drawn from each pot and that will decide the groups. There are eight groups in total.

Sam Cooper 1st December 20172:47 PM

So here we are. After a two year qualifying process, 32 teams now wait for their fate as men in expensive suits draw little balls out of pots. These balls of course will decide the groups for next year’s World Cup.