World Cup draw: Favourable ties for England and hosts Russia

Group B sees an Iberian derby while Russia will play Saudi Arabia in the opening game

General view of the stage during the final draw of the Fifa World Cup 2018 at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia. Photo: Sergei Chirikov/EPA

General view of the stage during the final draw of the Fifa World Cup 2018 at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia. Photo: Sergei Chirikov/EPA

 

England were handed a favourable draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after being chosen to face Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G.

After avoiding Argentina, Brazil and Germany, England were the penultimate team picked from Pot 2 by Diego Maradona in the draw ceremony in the Kremlin’s State Palace.

Gareth Southgate’s side will face Tunisia in their opening game in Volgograd on June 18th, a repeat of their first game in the 1998 World Cup in France, when goals from Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes gave England a 2-0 win in Marseille.

They will then travel to Nizhny Novgorod on June 24th to take on Panama, with their final group fixture against Belgium on June 28th in Kaliningrad.

England have never lost to Belgium at a major tournament and have only lost one of their 21 matches against them.

Former England captain Shearer told the BBC: “I don’t want to say it’s a good group or a bad group because I’ve heard it so many times over the years.

“We’ve got six days of rest after our first game, which if they are worried about travel, that shouldn’t be an issue.”

Elsewhere in the draw, hosts Russia were placed in Group A alongside Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay, with neighbours Portugal and Spain in Group B with Morocco and Iran.

France, Australia, Peru and Denmark make up Group C, with Group D perhaps the closest to a so-called ‘Group of Death’ as it contains Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia were drawn in Group E, with defending champions Germany in Group F with Mexico, Sweden and Korea.

Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan make up Group H.

Shearer believes Southgate will be “quietly pleased” with England’s group, despite the firepower Belgium have at their disposal.

“Eden Hazard, (Romelu) Lukaku, (Kevin) De Bruyne, who are all having excellent seasons — that will be a very, very tough game,” Shearer added.

“They have got some top quality players in that team. We’ve been saying it for a while now that they should go a distance in the tournament because of the number of players they have at their disposal.”

World Cup group stage draw

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay.

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, England.

Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan.

World Cup 2018 match schedule (all times Irish)

Thursday 14 June

Russia vs Saudi Arabia (Group A) - 4pm, Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow)

Friday 15 June

Egypt vs Uruguay (Group A) - 1pm, Ekaterinburg Arena

Morocco vs Iran (Group B) - 4pm, Saint Petersburg Stadium

Portugal vs Spain (Group B) - 7pm, Fisht Stadium (Sochi)

Saturday 16 June

France vs Australia (Group C) - 11am, Kazan Arena

Argentina vs Iceland (Group D) - 2pm, Spartak Stadium (Moscow)

Peru vs Denmark (Group C) - 5pm, Mordovia Arena (Saransk)

Croatia vs Nigeria (Group D) - 8pm, Kaliningrad Stadium

Sunday 17 June

Costa Rica vs Serbia (Group E) - 1pm, Samara Arena

Germany vs Mexico (Group F) - 4pm, Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow)

Brazil vs Switzerland (Group E) - 7pm, Rostov Arena

Monday 18 June

Sweden vs South Korea (Group F) - 1pm, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Belgium vs Panama (Group G) - 4pm, Fisht Stadium (Sochi)

Tunisia vs England (Group G) - 7pm, Volgograd Arena

Tuesday 19 June

Colombia vs Japan (Group H) - 1pm, Mordovia Arena (Saransk)

Poland vs Senegal (Group H) - 4pm, Spartak Stadium (Moscow)

Russia vs Egypt (Group A) - 7pm, Saint Petersburg Stadium

Wednesday 20 June

Portugal vs Morocco (Group B) - 1pm, Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow)

Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia (Group A) - 4pm, Rostov Arena

Iran vs Spain (Group B) - 7pm, Kazan Arena

Thursday 21 June

Denmark vs Australia (Group C) - 1pm, Samara Arena

France vs Peru (Group C) - 4pm, Ekateringburg Arena

Argentina vs Croatia (Group D) - 7pm, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Friday 22 June

Brazil vs Costa Rica (Group E) - 1pm, Saint Petersburg Stadium

Nigeria vs Iceland (Group D) - 4pm, Volgograd Arena

Serbia vs Switzerland (Group E) - 7pm, Kaliningrad Stadium

Saturday 23 June

Belgium vs Tunisia (Group G) - 1pm Spartak Stadium (Moscow)

South Korea vs Mexico (Group F) - 4pm, Rostov Arena

Germany vs Sweden (Group F) - 7pm Fisht Stadium (Sochi)

Sunday 24 June

England vs Panama (Group G) - 1pm, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Japan vs Senegal (Group H) - 4pm, Ekateringburg Arena

Poland vs Colombia (Group H) - 7pm, Kazan Arena

Monday 25 June

Uruguay vs Russia (Group A) - 3pm, Samara Arena

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt (Group A) - 3pm, Volgograd Arena

Spain vs Morocco (Group B) - 7pm, Kaliningrad Stadium

Iran vs Portugal (Group B) - 7pm, Mordovia Arena (Saransk)

Tuesday 26 June

Australia vs Peru (Group C) - 3pm, Fisht Stadium (Sochi)

Denmark vs France (Group C) - 3pm, Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow)

Iceland vs Croatia (Group D) - 7pm, Rostov Arena

Nigeria vs Argentina (Group D) - 7pm, Saint Petersburg Stadium

Wednesday 27 June

Mexico vs Sweden (Group F) - 3pm, Ekateringburg Arena

South Korea vs Germany (Group F) - 3pm, Kazan Arena

Switzerland vs Costa Rica (Group E) - 7pm, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Serbia vs Brazil (Group E) - 7pm, Spartak Stadium (Moscow)

Thursday 28 June

Senegal vs Colombia (Group H) - 3pm, Samara Arena

Japan vs Poland (Group H) - 3pm, Volgograd Arena

Panama vs Tunisia (Group G) - 7pm, Mordovia Arena (Saransk)

England vs Belgium (Group G) - 7pm, Kaliningrad Stadium

Saturday 30 June

Winner Group C vs Runner-up Group D (Last 16 Match 1) - 3pm, Kazan Arena

Winner Group A vs Runner-up Group B (Last 16 Match 2) - 7pm, Fisht Stadium (Sochi)

Sunday 1 July

Winner Group B vs Runner-up Group A (Last 16 Match 3) - 3pm, Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow)

Winner Group D vs Runner-up Group C (Last 16 Match 4) - 7pm, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Monday 2 July

Winner Group E vs Runner-up Group F (Last 16 Match 5) - 3pm, Samara Arena

Winner Group G vs Runner-up Group H (Last 16 Match 6) - 7pm, Rostov Arena

Tuesday 3 July

Winner Group F vs Runner-up Group E (Last 16 Match 7) - 3pm, Saint Petersburg Stadium

Winner Group H vs Runner-up Group G (Last 16 Match 8) - 7pm, Spartak Stadium (Moscow)

Friday 6 July

Winner Match 1 vs Winner Match 2 (QF 1) - 3pm, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Winner Match 5 vs Winner Match 6 (QF 2) - 7pm, Kazan Arena

Saturday 7 July

Winner Match 3 vs Winner Match 4 (QF 3) - 3pm, Samara Arena

Winner Match 7 vs Winner Match 8 (QF 4) - 7pm Fisht Stadium, Sochi

Tuesday 10 July

Winner QF 1 vs Winner QF 2 (Semi-final) - 7pm, Saint Petersburg Stadium

Wednesday 11 July

Winner QF 3 vs Winner QF 4 (Semi-final) - 7pm, Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow)

Saturday 14 July

Third/fourth play-off - 3pm, Saint Petersburg Stadium

Sunday 15 July

World Cup Final - 4pm, Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow)

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