The countdown for Russia 2018 has started
After a very balanced draw, the whole globe is already dreaming with the World Cup.
Moscow just hosted the 2018 World Cup draw. Different from previous editions, this time luck was not a huge factor and most of the groups ended up being very evenly matched. The World Cup will kick-off on June the 14th of 2018 with Russia hosting Saudi Arabia at Moscow’s Luzhnikí stadium.
The main reason for the draw being so balanced was that the 32 countries that will participate in the tournament were distributed in the eight first-round groups according to their FIFA ranking.
Amongst the top ranked squads, the two South American powerhouses, Brazil and Argentina, had the toughest draw. The first one will need to face tough Switzerland, Serbia and a Costa Rica team that was the main surprise of the 2014 World Cup.
In the other side, Argentina will play two tough European units: Iceland, who will participate in the tournament for the first time and Croatia, a team full of great individual skills. The Argentina group is completed by Nigeria, a squad the South Americans have already faced four times in the first round of previous World Cups.
Things will not be easy for Mexico, either. The squad coached by Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio shares group with current champion Germany.
If the Aztecs save the first stage but do not finish in first place, they would need to face the winner of Brazil’s group in the round of 16. A very spectacular game will be the first of Group B, where two of the top European nations, neighbors Spain and Portugal, will square off.
By being placed in Group E, Colombia could be highlighted amongst the luckiest teams in the draw. Of the top seeded squads, the Colombians got the Polish instead of the Germans or the French. Senegal and dangerous Japan are also in Group E. Uruguay will not have a tough time either, sharing Group A with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Coming back to the tournament after a 36-year drought, Perú will have a hard time with France, Denmark and Australia. Having as groupmates two of the strongest European squads, England and Belgium, newcomer Panamá will definitely face a tough challenge on its World Cup debut.
Right now it is hard to have things clear. It is very difficult to make picks. Yes, it is true there is a long way to go (195 days) for the inaugural game in Moscow. But it is also true that for the next seven months we will follow soccer differently as we will always have our focus placed on Russia 2018.