Breaking! Russia 2018: Nigeria Drawn With Argentina, Iceland, Croatia In Group D + Full Draw Analysis

…Easy Groups For France, Brazil, Poland



■ RussiaEngland and France got favorable draws, but they were not alone in that. Portugal will play its neighbor Spain in Group B, and Argentina drew one of the tougher first-round groups, as it was paired with Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria. Mexico, the Concacaf champion, will play Germany, Sweden and South Korea in Group F.

Group A analysis: balance, and two bad teams.

Teams: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

The opening game of the World Cup will be Russia against Saudi Arabia: or, to put it another way, the two worst teams in the tournament, according to the FIFA rankings. The group is quite nicely balanced, though: Uruguay will expect to make the last 16, but both Russia and Egypt will have hopes of joining them.

Group B analysis: two favorites, and no guarantees.
Teams: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco

Not as bad as it might have been for Portugal and Spain. Both will expect to make it through — though Morocco is not to be underestimated — in a group that also includes Iran. Finishing on top here might prove crucial as the tournament’s knockout round takes shape.

Group C analysis: dream group for France.

Teams: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia

If France had imagined an ideal group, it would have been this. Peru was among the weakest of the second seeds, Australia does not have a coach, and Denmark should not trouble them too much. Second place could be intriguing, though.

Group D analysis: the most interesting group, for sure.

Teams: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria

Probably the most delicately balanced, most interesting, and most competitive of all the groups. Argentina only just qualified, Croatia has an abundance of individual talent, Iceland a tremendous collective strength and Nigeria was, possibly, the worst fourth seed around. Argentina will not be happy at all.

The full draw:

Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco

Group C: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia

Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama

Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan

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