Look, it’s going to be weird to watch the 2018 World Cup draw without having any USMNT-related tension. It’s bizarre. The whole thing is still hard to accept and hard to believe. Nonetheless, I’ll be watching next summer, because I’m the kind of dork who watches every World Cup game. And since this is a site that draws in soccer nerds, I’m guessing you’re in the same boat. So, let’s do this thing!
Location: State Kremlin Palace (Moscow, Russia)
Time: 10:00am Eastern
How does it work: In previous years, the pots for the draw have had some basis in geography. This time, it’s purely by the deeply flawed FIFA rankings, bar Russia (as host) being placed into Pot 1. If Russia had qualified the normal way, they would be the lowest-ranked team in the field. As has become custom for hosts in recent years, Russia has already been placed in Group A.
The pots will be drawn in order, so that the other seven teams from Pot 1 (Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, and France) will each be placed in a group, followed by the teams from Pot 2, then Pot 3, and finally Pot 4. The first team drawn goes into Group A, the second into Group B, and so on.
However, where the Pot 1 teams will automatically be listed first in the group (as team A1, B1, etc), there is a second drawing for which spot in a group a team ends up in. So for example, the first team out of Pot 2 will go into group A, but the second drawing will determine whether they’re A2, A3, or A4. This impacts what order teams face each other in. For example, Russia will play the opening match of the tournament against whoever ends up as team A2, and that team could be from Pot 4.
A team can’t be placed into a group with another team from their confederation, save for teams from Europe. In the case of UEFA (which has 14 teams in the tournament), a maximum of two European teams can be placed in the same group.
Got all that? If you’d like, you can simulate the whole thing here (when I ran this the first time, the simulator predicted Germany being knocked out in the group stage, with Croatia and Senegal getting through instead, which would be amazing). The full set of pots is here.
Available TV: Fox Sports 1, Telemundo, ESPN Deportes, NBC Universo, beIN Sport en Español, Fox Deportes
Available streaming: WatchESPN, FIFA.com, Youtube, Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Match Pass, ESPN Deportes+, NBC Universo Now, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, Univision Deportes, beIN Sport Connect
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What are you drinking?: Coffee. More specifically, I’m not sure. Maybe an Americano?
This is the place for all your discussion of the draw. Rest assured, we’ll still have a normal Freedom Kicks coming up at its normal time.