Russia World Cup 2018 – Stage Is Set For Showdown

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Written By Saeed Maleki

The stage has been set for the summer’s showdown spectacle of the soccer World Cup Finals.

The big names are all there – including Brazil, Germany, France and Argentina.

But some sides with past glory are missing, like Italy and The Netherlands.

But the line-up of the 32 teams is now certain after two years of qualifying matches around the globe.

This is how the groups were picked:

  • Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, Egypt
  • Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
  • Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
  • Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
  • Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
  • Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
  • Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England
  • Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

First game kicks off June 14

Russia v Saudi Arabia is first game of World Cup in Moscow on June 14.

The first team in each group are the number one seeds.

The tournament takes place in 12 stadiums between June 14 and July 15, when the final is played in Moscow.

The betting is for favourites Brazil and Germany, who are defending champions, to compete for the trophy.

Panama are the only newcomers, but are doubtful to progress as they are thought to field an aging and slow team that will have frailties exposed at this level.

Expect to see a swansong from prolific Portugal and Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo, who at the age of 32 years old is probably playing in his last major tournament.

Toughest draw

Nevertheless, he scored 15 goals in qualification and has a pedigree of captaining his country to win the last Euros and has lifted four Champions League titles with his club. In total, he has netted 79 times for Portugal.

The hardest group draws look to be Group B and Group D.

Portugal and France are seeded as likely winners, but Spain in Group B and Nigeria and Croatia in Group D are no slouches. Add Argentina into the Group D mix and one fancied team to get out of the group stages will go home early.

Group H is one to watch – any team is likely to beat the other – and moving out of the group is expected to be a close-run thing.