Its Russia-Saudi Arabia in opener; Portugal, Spain in same group

Its Russia-Saudi Arabia in opener; Portugal, Spain in same group

Its Russia-Saudi Arabia in opener; Portugal, Spain in same group

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui remained cautious after seeing the group that Spain were handed in the draw for next summer's World Cup, held in Moscow.

A collection of World Cup greats, with France's 1998 World Cup-winning captain Laurent Blanc and ex-England goalie Gordon Banks as well as Maradona, selected the balls from four pots with the draw completed in about half an hour. With a favorable draw in Group F that includes Mexico (+450 to win the group), Sweden (+550) and South Korea (+1200), Germany is a -335 favorite to win its group to advance into the knockout stage with a top seed. "There is no reason for us to be nervous", Germany coach Joachim Loew said.

Prediction: Uruguay will come out of the group in first place, having finished second in the extremely hard South American qualifying tournament.

While this group is expected to be a simple race to the top between England and Belgium with both having players like Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne respectively, Panama and Tunisia may not really affect the expected results of the group.

"We haven't done as much preparing on the African teams yet so now that's what we can focus on". Egypt and Uruguay are also in Group A.

"It is going to be one of those games with no secrets", said Martinez, a former Everton manager.

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Ever-present five-times champions Brazil, have Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia for company in Group E while Argentina face an intriguing opener against debutants Iceland in Group D. That brings that understanding. Russia's other opponents in Group "A" are Uruguay and Egypt. France and their potent strikeforce featuring Antoine Griezmann and teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe will play Australia, Peru and Denmark in Group "C". With Colombia, Poland, Japan and Senegal in action, the group may not be as celebrated as other groups of the tournament.

World Cup organising committee chief Alexei Sorokin warned on the eve of the draw that Russian Federation tended to play to the level of their opponents. Putin urged fans to visit and enjoy his "big and multi-faceted" country, a rallying cry which follows concerns about racism and hooliganism.

But Sorokin said the team were hitting their stride after losing just 1-0 to Argentina and drawing 3-3 with Spain in home friendlies last month.

Iran and Morocco are well aware that their first match could be decisive, but they will be forced to put aside their own unique defending styles in the World Cup qualifications in the first match, TeamIran.net wrote.

The International Olympic Committee executive board will decide on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) whether to ban Russian Federation from the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

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