The 2018 FIFA World Cup draw will take place on Dec. 1. Here's how it's going to work.
The FIFA World Cup is one of the most popular events in sports. An event that brings together polarizing nations from across the globe is few and far between in the sports world, creating considerable anticipation for the summer event.
But before the games can begin, each nation must be placed in a qualification group. The process can be complicated, as there are plenty of variables to consider when deciding who and where each of the 32 teams will play.
The draw will take place on Friday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. ET in Russia. Here's a look at how it will work.
How It Works
Due to a change in FIFA procedure, the world's governing body of soccer is using the October 2017 FIFA ranking to determine the pot split. The host, Russia, and the top seven teams qualified for the World Cup will be in the top pot, followed by three groups of eight, all organized in sequential order.
It's a change from the most recent past, in which FIFA used its ranking for the top pot only and then organized the remaining three based on logistical and geographical criteria.
The field is set for good following Peru's 2-0 win over New Zealand in the second leg of their playoff two weeks ago:
One team from each pot will make up a group. As usual, only UEFA teams are able to be drawn with each other, with a maximum of two European nations in the same group. Otherwise, regional foes are kept apart until the round of 16 at the earliest.
How to Watch
Fox will broadcast the draw in English, with Telemundo receiving the Spanish rights. FIFA's official website will also have a live stream of the event.
Which teams have qualified?
Germany, Belgium, England, Spain and Brazil are among the teams who qualified for the World Cup, while Chile, Italy and the United States faced heartbreak and failed to secure a spot in Russia.
A full list of qualifiers for the 21st FIFA World Cup can be found below:
Former England striker Gary Lineker, the top scorer at the 1986 World Cup, will host the ceremony at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow alongside sports journalist Maria Komandnaya.
Lineker has been critical of FIFA in the past, but was the choice of the organization. The 56-year-old explained the decision via Twitter.
And still will be when necessary. I’m hosting the draw for a World Cup that I’ve watched all my life, played in twice, won its Golden boot and will present for @BBCSport for the 6th time next summer. I just wish I could still play in it. Doesn’t make it a political endorsement. https://t.co/aPY7Ec6fq8— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 17, 2017
Former German striker Miroslav Klose, the competition's all-time leading goalscorer, will bring the trophy on stage in Moscow.
Representatives from each of the eight nations that have won the World Cup will also be present in the Russian capital.
Teams to watch
The FIFA table is constructed with metrics that don't necessarily reflect where nations actually sit on the competitive spectrum. In the November ranking, for example, 10 of the top 32 teams aren't even competing in the World Cup. That said, the best 32 teams in the world don't necessarily compete at the World Cup, either. All of that means there is plenty of room for discussion within each pot.
Germany are the current champions and favorites to triumph in Russia, along with Spain, SI's Grant Wahl believes.
If I had 2 picks to win World Cup 2018: Spain and Germany. France too inconsistent. Brazil improved but not totally convincing. Argentina not good enough.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) November 16, 2017
The Germans were clinical and downright dominant throughout World Cup qualifying, and Jogi Low has restocked his roster after a number of vital veterans from the 2014 championship squad stepped aside. No team has repeated as World Cup champion since Pele's Brazil in 1958 and 1962, but a balanced Germany stands as good a chance as any of replicating the feat.
Spain got the rawest deal of all, missing out on the top pot despite a vicious qualifying campaign from a reinvigorated side. No Pot 1 team will want to be paired with La Furia Roja, which has the pieces to bounce back–and then some–from its shocking group elimination in 2014.
Brazil and France will also be in contention.
Brazil is about way more than just Neymar this time around, and its form after Tite took over as manager has proven to be no joke. Four years after the nightmare of 7-1 on home soil, the Seleção are poised to contend for a sixth title–some 60 years after capturing a first.
No team in the world has more talent on paper than France. The problem is, Didier Deschamps can only bring 23 players to Russia, and he can only play 11 at a time. Despite their riches and considering the expectations, Les Bleus were a bit underwhelming throughout qualifying and haven't established themselves as true favorites. Deschamps's selections will be under quite the microscope.
Other interesting sides include Lionel Messi's Argentina, Eden Hazard's Belgium and Harry Kane's England.
When does the world cup start?
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is set to commence on June 14, 2018. The final match will be held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15, 2018.