The 32 countries competing in the 2018 World Cup will find out their fate on Friday, as the ever-important draw takes place in Moscow.
Coverage of the draw in the United States starts at 9:30 a.m. ET and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch FS1 online, on your phone or on another streaming device by signing up for a free trial of one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
FuboTV: Fox Sports 1 is included in the “Fubo Premier” channel package, which is $19.99 per month for the first two months and $39.99 per month after that. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via your browser, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app
DirecTV Now: Fox Sports 1 is included in all four channel packages, ranging from $35 to $70 per month. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via your browser, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app
Sling TV: Fox Sports 1 is included in the “Sling Blue” channel package for $25 per month. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via your browser, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app
Teams will be split into eight groups, with one country from each pot going into each group. As hosts, Russia automatically goes into Group A, while teams outside of UEFA can’t be slotted into the same group. Here are the pots, which are based on the FIFA world rankings:
Russia (Hosts), Germany (1), Brazil (2), Portugal (3), Argentina (4), Belgium (5), Poland (6), France (7)
Spain (8), Peru (10), Switzerland (11), England (12), Colombia (13), Mexico (16), Uruguay (17), Croatia (18)
Denmark (19), Iceland (21), Costa Rica (22), Sweden (25), Tunisia (28), Egypt (30), Senegal (32), Iran (34)
Serbia (38), Nigeria (41), Australia (43), Japan (44), Morocco (48), Panam (49), South Korea (62), Saudi Arabia (63)
As always, teams will be hoping to avoid the “Group of Death.” We obviously don’t know what that is before the draw, but it’s fairly safe to say that whatever group gets Spain out of the second pot is going to be a decidedly difficult one. Though La Roja have disappointed at the last two major international competitions (failed to advanced past the group stage at the 2014 World Cup and were ousted by Italy in the Round of 16 at Euro 2016), they still blitzed their way through qualification with a 9-1-0 record and plus-33(!) goal differential, and they still have a ton of firepower behind the likes of Alvaro Morata, David Silva, Isco and Diego Costa. Spain plus any team from Group A has the makings for a “Group of Death.”
England and Colombia are two other countries that could make things difficult for Pot 1 teams. England, like Spain, has a shaky recent international track record, but with Harry Kane up front and a bevy of young talent playing behind him, you can’t count out Thee Three Lions. And while qualifying was rocky for Colombia, James Rodriguez is capable of carrying this team, much like he did in 2014 when they advanced to the quarterfinals in Brazil.
Ultimately, no matter what happens, there will be plenty to unpack from each of the eight groups. Hopefully that will help the next six months scoot by a little quicker.