World Cup Draw LIVE Blog

Welcome to a very special edition of the Russian Football News LIVE Blog as we bring you all the latest reaction and news from the State Kremlin Palace as the World Cup Finals Draw takes place. We will discover which countries will face Russia, who will play in which city and which groups will be the dreaded Group of Death. Our man Danny Armstrong is reporting inside the event itself to give us a little extra insight into proceedings, but for now join in the debate and enjoy the ride. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…

(All times will be in GMT)

16:25  Well there we have it folks – plans are being hastily made as we speak with the full draw done and dusted. Russia, England, Belgium and France are probably happiest, but as we know anything can happen on the night. Keep your eyes peeled for World Cup content on, but for now, it’s goodbye from him, and it’s goodbye from… well, me. See you soon!

16:15  “If Russia fail to qualify from a group with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the Sbornaya should be disbanded forever,” according to Count Statula, RFN’s resident historian/stats man. hard to disagree there to be honest. President Putin will also be happy, one imagines…

16:10  So let’s lay out the groups in order, and you can judge which are the easier ones, and which are the more difficult. Russia’s Group A is my personal vote for the easiest, but England should face little trouble getting past Tunisia and Panama in Group G.

Group A: RUSSIA, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria

Group E: Brazil,  Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

16:01  So in a flash it’s all over – Russia have really been dealt a comfortable hand with an opening match against Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki on 14 June, followed by Egypt on 19 June. If they haven’t wrapped up the progress to the knockout stages by the time they face Uruguay on 25 June in Samara then they will have only themselves to blame.

15:57  Group B: Spain, Portugal, Iran and Morocco. Group C: France, Australia, Peru and Denmark. Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia. Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea. Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England. Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.

15:50  RUSSIA WILL PLAY SAUDI ARABIA IN THE OPENING MATCH. That completes a very comfortable group for the hosts with Egypt and Uruguay. Any complaints there?? None from me.

15:48  Russia have Egypt and Uruguay so far – far from the worst draw so far for the hosts. France, Peru and RFN Editor-in-Chief’s Denmark are in Group C. Carlos Quieroz’s Iran join the Iberian Group B with Spain and Portugal – two countries he obviously knows very well.

15:44  Croatia in with Argentina in Group D. Brazil face Switzerland in Group E. Germany and Mexico are in Group F, with England avoiding their old enemy and joining Belgium in Group G. Colombia face Poland in Group H.

15:42  Spain and Portugal in Group B. No more European sides can be in their group. Peru go into Group C with France.

15:41  There are the first seeds done, now the interesting part begins – England in pot 2. Uruguay are drawn in Russia’s group, and take position 4 (they will play in Samara on 25 June).

15:36  Portugal are in Group B – they will play in Sochi (15 Jun), Moscow (20 Jun) and Saransk (25 Jun). France are in Group C – they will play in Kazan (16 Jun), Ekaterinburg (21 Jun) and Moscow (26 Jun). Argentina are in Group D – they will play in Moscow (16 Jun), Nizhny Novgorod (21 Jun) and St Petersburg (26 Jun). Brazil are in Group E – they will play in Rostov-on-Don (17 Jun), St Petersburg (22 Jun) and Moscow (27 Jun). Germany are in Group F – they will play in Moscow (17 Jun), Sochi (23 Jun) and Kazan (27 Jun). Belgium are in Group G – they will play in Sochi (18 Jun), Moscow (23 Jun) and Kaliningrad (28 Jun). Poland are in Group H – they will play in Moscow (19 Jun), Kazan (24 Jun) and Volgograd (28 Jun)

15:35  Lineker and Komandnaya are here, which means we are moments away from drawing the groups. “I think I’d prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup Final than present this draw,” he ‘jokes’. Here we go – fingers crossed everyone!

15:32  The legends tasked with drawing the teams and their positions are finally being wheeled out – Gordon Banks and Nikita Simonyan are in place. Diego Forlán, some bloke called Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol, Fabio Cannavaro. Not a bad side that….

15: 23  Some immaculate steps and twirls now from the Igor Moiseev Ballet performing Russian Dance ‘Summer’ – next summer will surprise those who haven’t set foot in Russia. All ice and snow, right? Wrong! It will be sweltering in June and July, especially in Rostov-on-Don and Sochi.

15:19  The obligatory god-awful official draw song on stage sung by Alsu – the People’s Artist of Tatarstan Republic – but now Miroslav Klose is appearing with the trophy itself to return proceedings to the matter at hand.

15:13  I’d suggest the group most first seeds want to avoid is Group G – Sochi, Moscow and Kaliningrad covers an awkward triangle of travel spanning the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the capital. Russia of course we already know will play in Moscow, St Petersburg and Samara.

15:09  Infantino really does have the most terrifyingly enormous eyebrows, especially for a man with nothing up top. Get a trim man!

15:05  While the speeches are read off the well-rehearsed pages, there’s just enough time to dip into Marca’s 100 Facts about the 2018 World Cup…

15:00  And we’re off! The cameras are rolling, it’s time to introduce the good and famous, starting with Mr Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Gianni Infantino. Not much hair between them, but a fair bit of power and influence…

14:57  We are almost at the very start of the draw officially beginning – the schedule is marked down the very second, with the whole draw itself taking place over just 30 minutes, so hold on to your seats. Introductions, guest presenters arriving and then bam – right into the meat of it.

14:52  RFN’s James Nickels is hoping for an East Anglian flavour – the last time the region was heavily involved in the World Cup ‘Tonka’ exacted revenge on Argentina as England reached the semi-finals under Mike Basset’s watch…

14:48  One thing to note as well is that each group will also have a minimum of one European team.

14:43  Like we mentioned earlier, our man Danny Armstrong is reporting from inside the venue itself, and has confirmed that Diego Maradona – who was taken ill yesterday and couldn’t attend the dress rehearsal – is in the building.

14:37  Once each team is drawn they will then be allocated a position in the group, which will determine when and where they will play their fixtures. England could face Russia in the opening game, as they are in pot 2…

14:28  OK, down to business: how will this dastardly thing actually work? Well, the 32 teams are divided into 4 pots based on the latest FIFA rankings (with hosts Russia automatically placed in pot one), with each group having a pot one, pot two, pot three and pot four team. There is a maximum of one team per confederation in each group, with the exception of UEFA nations, who can provide a maximum of two teams in a group. With us so far?

14:23  Vladimir Putin has arrived at the event. The Russian President will have to deflect plenty of political flack in the coming months, but tonight is all about the glamour and star attractions – the small matter of the draw itself, too.

14:19  Panama are likely to be the whipping boys, but will it be a case of fail to prepare, prepare to fail for the rest of the tournament’s sides if they draw the Latin Americans? They may be making their debut, but they did see off the USA in CONCACAF qualifying thanks to a dramatic late winner.

14:15  Welcome to the glitziest of FIFA events – Gordon Banks, Nikita Simonyan, Carles Puyol, Diego Forlán, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Gary Lineker, David Seaman and Stan Collymore are all there. So who are you hoping for Russia to draw? RFN’s Danny Armstrong gives his views…

Author: Andrew Flint

I moved out to Russia in 2010 to teach English because it sounded like fun, then I met and fell in love with FC Tyumen (and my wife!) and decided to stay. Surprisingly, I turned out to be the only English person remotely interested in a Siberian third-tier club, but then who wouldn’t fall for a grizzly Georgian midget, a flying Brazilian and Tyumen’s 93rd most influential figure…


  1. King Paul says:

    The stitching on the FIFA on baldy’s suit looks a little frayed to me.

Leave a Reply