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2018 FIFA World Cup pots - how many Groups of Death can we get in the draw?

The World Cup group stage draw will be held on 1 December in Russia

Feature 16 Nov 2017, 15:48 IST

2018 FIFA World Cup pots
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia

The final round of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers came to an end on 15 November and the last team was confirmed when Peru beat New Zealand in the inter-confederation playoffs.

The final 32 teams can book their flights to Russia but they will know their group stage opponents in two weeks.

How the Group Stage draw works

The draw for the World Cup groups is set to take place on 1 December at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

The 32 teams are split into four pots of eight teams each based on the latest FIFA rankings. The top seven teams in the world will join hosts Russia in Pot 1. The list includes Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, and France.

Pot 2 will have the next highest ranked teams and it has heavyweights and regulars such as Spain, England, Uruguay, and Mexico. Pot 3 has the next eight highest ranked teams while Pot 4 has the lowest ranked teams at the World Cup.

2018 FIFA World Cup pots groups
2018 FIFA World Cup pots (teams seeded based on rankings)

In an ideal world, teams from the same confederation will not be drawn in the same group. For example: South American countries Brazil (Pot 1) and Uruguay (Pot 2) cannot be drawn together. African nations Egypt (Pot 3) and Nigeria (Pot 3) cannot be drawn together.

But there is one exception: Since the majority of the 32 teams are from UEFA (14 teams), two teams from Europe can be drawn together.

As the host nation, Russia will automatically go into Group A and kickoff the first match on 14 June 2018. The top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stages (Round of 16).

How many Groups of Death could we see?

Since two UEFA nations can be drawn in the same group, this makes it increasingly difficult for top European countries in Pot 2 to draw an easy group.

Spain and England will not have it easy unless they are drawn in the same group as hosts Russia. The hosts are ranked 65th in the world and aren't considered a major threat, especially after finishing dead last in the group stage of Euro 2016. Without having to qualify, they have only played friendly matches.

Spain v Albania - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier
Spain v Albania - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier

Spain breezed through their qualification without a single loss (9 wins and 1 draw in 10 games) but their drop in the FIFA rankings in recent years saw them go into Pot 2 even though they had managed to climb back into the top 10.

This means that we could quite easily see a group with Argentina, Spain, Senegal, and Serbia. It is possible to see England drawn alongside Brazil, Iceland (who knocked them out of Euro 2016), and Nigeria.

Belgium and Uruguay could find themselves in the same group as, say, Egypt and Japan. There are a number of possibilities and if worst comes to worst for these teams, we could see as many as three Groups of Death.

We will find out on 1 December when all eyes will be on the Kremlin.

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