Friday, 15 December, 2017

Charts show that Russia's World Cup group is unlike the others

Neymar, Thomas Muller, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard Neymar, Thomas Muller, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard
Edmund Wade | 04 December, 2017, 00:41

The 2010 World Cup winners, Spain have been placed in Group B with European defending champions Portugal, Morocco and Iran in Friday's draw in Moscow.

A fairly balanced draw left the 6,000 dignitaries assembled at the State Kremlin Arena in Moscow with no standout "group of death" to mull over, although some intriguing matchups do lie ahead once the tournament kicks off next summer.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, remains the arrowhead of European champions Portugal, and despite a slow start to the season, his Real Madrid boss Zinedane Zidane insists it will be Ronaldo - and not Messi - who wins the Ballon d'Or next week.

"I think it's wonderful to be able to play against such strong countries as Spain and Portugal". Iran was the first team to qualify for the World Cup.

Five-time victor Brazil, eager to exorcise the demons of 2014 and their 7-1 semi-final humiliation against Germany on home soil, will expect little trouble in progressing from Group E ahead of Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos says his team has a hard task ahead since they have been drawn in a deceptive and treacherous group.

"Iran has experience and the coach is also one of the most experienced in this World Cup".

Messi literally dragged Argentina to the 2018 World Cup - including a final day hat-trick - but he'll obviously need some help in the finals if he's to scoop awards.

His current contract, signed in the wake of first round elimination in the 2014 World Cup, runs until the end of the Russian Federation tournament.

"Without a doubt, Spain and Portugal are favorites, but only on paper".

Belhanda, 27, was integral in qualifying Morocco to the World Cup after 20 years; they last played in the 1998 World Cup in France.

"They are the champions of Europe, they have fantastic players and we are talking about the highest level", said Spain coach Julen Lopetegui to Spanish TV station Cuatro.

France and their potent strikeforce featuring Antoine Griezmann and teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe will play Australia, Peru and Denmark in Group C.

The tournament that spans 11 cities and 12 stadiums will kick off when host nation Russian Federation take on Saudi Arabia on June 14 in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

Russia's other opponents in Group A are Uruguay, led by Barcelona's Luis Suarez, and Egypt, spearheaded by Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah. "It's going to be a hard tournament", Santos added.

"Portugal have won an important title and, moreover, very recently".

Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal and Japan.

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