World Cup draw 2018: Follow live build-up from Moscow as England and Gareth Southgate await their fate

The 2018 World Cup draw takes place this afternoon, as the 32 nations that have qualified for next summer’s tournament in Russia find out their World Cup fate.

The draw is scheduled to begin at 3pm GMT, but join us before then as we bring you build-up from Moscow, where our Chief Football Writer Miguel Delaney is already in place.

England will be in pot two for the draw because of their middling Fifa world ranking – which could mean Gareth Southgate’s side face an uncomfortably difficult group next summer.

Follow all of the latest below.

Live Updates


Russia (hosts):


Russia have undergone a notable overhaul following the disappointment of Euro 2016, with manager Stanislav Cherchesov placing his faith in youth. Youngsters Viktor Vasin (CSKA), Fedor Kudryashov (Rubin Kazan) and Georgi Dzhikiya (Spartak Moscow) have all been brought in to replace the ageing Sergei Ignashevich and Vasily Berezutski who, together, made for a defensive partnership that was 73 years in age.


Igor Denisov, arguably the side’s best defensive midfielder, has been excluded after falling out with Cherchesov at Dynamo Moscow. Whether or not such a decision could come back to haunt the Russia manager remains to be seen.


Russia’s fans will take comfort in the sight of their front line though. Alan Dzagoev is still performing to a high level while strikers Fyodor Smolov and Aleksandr Kokorin have both been banging the goals away this year.


Manager: Stanislav Cherchesov 
Preferred: system 3-5-2
Odds: 40-1



Next summer will be a momentous occasion for Panama and Iceland who are making their debut at the World Cup. 


Iceland are the only country with a population under one million to have reached the World Cup finals. They’ll be looking to add to their success last summer when they made their first appearance at a major tournament – Euro 2016 – before infamously knocking England out in the last-16 to reach the quarter-finals.


As for Panama, they reached the World Cup finals thanks to an 88th-minute winner against Costa Rica. That result knocked out the United States in what proved to be another shock of the World Cup qualifiers.


Whoever they’re drawn alongside later today, I’m sure they’ll be happy to just be there.


Our man Miguel getting in the mood in Moscow…



Shock. In other news, the Pope is a Catholic and the sky is blue.


So what actually happened?


Well. Gianni Infantino on Friday dodged questions about the alleged existence of a state-sponsored doping programme in Russia, the host country of next year’s World Cup finals.


Infantino was speaking alongside Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko ahead of the World Cup draw at the Kremlin.

“Fifa doesn’t participate in any speculations about any situation,” he said, referring to allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia that could see the country banned from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.



Infantino said Fifa was testing players in and out of competition and that all tests from the 2017 Confederations Cup, the 2016 European

championship and the 2014 World Cup had proven negative.

“These tests are not carried out in Russia and they are carried out by non-Russians,” Infantino told reporters.

“Obviously, as it was the case in the past and as will be the case in the future as well, if it turns out that anyone has committed a doping violation, has taken some doping, then there will be sanctions.”


I’ll just leave this here to make your own judgements.



  • Serbia (38)
  • Nigeria (41)
  • Australia (43)
  • Japan (44)
  • Morocco (48)
  • Panama (49)
  • South Korea (62)
  • Saudi Arabia (63)


  • Denmark (19)
  • Iceland (21)
  • Costa Rica (22)
  • Sweden (25)
  • Tunisia (28)
  • Egypt (30)
  • Senegal (32)
  • Iran (34)



  • Spain (8)
  • Peru (10)
  • Switzerland (11)
  • England (12)
  • Colombia (13)
  • Mexico (16)
  • Uruguay (17)
  • Croatia (18)

A reminder of the World Cup pots:



  • Russia (hosts)
  • Germany (1)
  • Brazil (2)
  • Portugal (3)
  • Argentina (4)
  • Belgium (5)
  • Poland (6)
  • France (7)



The good news for England is they are unlikely to draw a group as tough as they did in Brazil four years ago, when they were lumbered with four-time winners Italy, two-time winners Uruguay, and eventual 2014 Group D winners Costa Rica.

Based on FIFA’s October rankings, which have been used to seed all four pots, the nightmare group for England is Germany, Costa Rica and Nigeria.

While Denmark are the highest ranked team in pot three, and Serbia the highest ranked in pot four, England cannot be drawn with more than one other European side.

Should England replicate their most recent World Cup result against each of those teams, Gareth Southgate’s side would end the 2018 group stage with just two points.

Find out all the other permutations here:


Miguel has had his say on this afternoon’s draw and asks: All the top countries are beatable, so why all the poker faces?


Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the World Cup draw!


The draw is scheduled to take place at 3pm but join us for build-up from Moscow, where our Chief Football Writer Miguel Delaney is already in place.


All you need to know: 

When is it?

The draw for the group stages of the 2018 World Cup will be held at 3pm GMT on Friday 1st December, in Moscow. It will take place at the Kremlin.

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Where can I watch it?

The draw will be shown live on Sky Sports or alternatively you can follow The Independent’s live blog to find out which group your country will be allocated into.

Who is in it?

The teams qualified are: 

Uefa (Europe): Russia (hosts) France, Portugal, Germany, Serbia, Poland, EnglandSpain, Belgium, Iceland, Switzerland, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark

Conmebol (South America): Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Peru.

Concacaf (North/Central America and Caribbean): MexicoCosta Rica, Panama 

AFC (Asia): Iran Football, South Korea Football, Japan Football, Saudi Arabia

CAF (Africa): Tunisia, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, Egypt


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