Eurocopa Alemania - Portugal

Imágenes del partido entre Alemania y Portugal, segundo encuentro del grupo B de la Eurocopa

West Ham looking to sign Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario on loan

West Ham United are attempting to sign Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario on loan. Talks are on-going, with an agreement understood to have been reached between the two clubs over a proposed deal. However, the Portugal international is weighing up the move with sources suggesting he may have “a number of options” to consider and is asking for time before deciding what to do. Inter are keen to loan out Joao Mario, who cost them more than €45 million (£39.8m) from Sporting Lisbon - in what was the biggest ever transfer by a Portuguese club - but he has grown frustrated at his lack of playing time. Joao Mario featured for Portugal during their Euro 2016 triumph and made a move from Sporting to Inter, ahead of a host of other clubs, that summer. The attacking midfielder has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United in the past. Joao Mario in action for Inter Milan Credit: REUTERS Inter do not want to sell him at this time and hope to secure the 24 year-old regular first-team football with a loan move to a Premier League club. Joao Mario has had to make do with a bit-part role this season, with coach Luciano Spalletti preferring Marcelo Brozovic. West Ham manager David Moyes has targeted strengthening his midfield as a priority during this window and is willing to sell forward players in order to help finance deals. West Ham were knocked back at the start of the window with an inquiry for Stoke City’s Joe Allen and are interested in several other players. The club is prepared to listen to offers for Diafra Sakho and Javier Hernandez and are aware of Chelsea’s interest in Andy Carroll. They are prepared to sell Carroll, with suggestions of a fee of around £20m being acceptable, but West Ham would also want Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi on loan.

West Ham looking to sign Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario on loan

West Ham United are attempting to sign Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario on loan. Talks are on-going, with an agreement understood to have been reached between the two clubs over a proposed deal. However, the Portugal international is weighing up the move with sources suggesting he may have “a number of options” to consider and is asking for time before deciding what to do. Inter are keen to loan out Joao Mario, who cost them more than €45 million (£39.8m) from Sporting Lisbon - in what was the biggest ever transfer by a Portuguese club - but he has grown frustrated at his lack of playing time. Joao Mario featured for Portugal during their Euro 2016 triumph and made a move from Sporting to Inter, ahead of a host of other clubs, that summer. The attacking midfielder has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United in the past. Joao Mario in action for Inter Milan Credit: REUTERS Inter do not want to sell him at this time and hope to secure the 24 year-old regular first-team football with a loan move to a Premier League club. Joao Mario has had to make do with a bit-part role this season, with coach Luciano Spalletti preferring Marcelo Brozovic. West Ham manager David Moyes has targeted strengthening his midfield as a priority during this window and is willing to sell forward players in order to help finance deals. West Ham were knocked back at the start of the window with an inquiry for Stoke City’s Joe Allen and are interested in several other players. The club is prepared to listen to offers for Diafra Sakho and Javier Hernandez and are aware of Chelsea’s interest in Andy Carroll. They are prepared to sell Carroll, with suggestions of a fee of around £20m being acceptable, but West Ham would also want Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi on loan.

England and Scotland could face Euro 96 repeat in 2020 as Wembley gets more games

England could play their entire 2020 European Championship campaign at Wembley - and could even face Scotland in the group stages - after the home of football was awarded four more fixtures at the tournament. Having already been handed the semi-finals and finals of what had been conceived as a pan-European event, the national stadium was controversially reallocated games originally intended to be played in Brussels. Wembley will now stage an additional three group matches and a last-16 tie to take its total share to seven - more than during Euro 96. And England could play all four of those fixtures at the stadium - as well as any semi-final or final - in a tournament bearing more and more of a resemblance to that when football came home. Those similarities will intensify if both they and Scotland qualify, which would ensure a repeat of their iconic Euro 96 clash - their first and only meeting at a major finals. That was after Uefa announced Wembley and Hampden would stage matches in the same group - Group D - having previously confirmed each of the 12 host countries would play at least two group games at home provided they reach the tournament. Those nations’ third group games, meanwhile, will either also be played at home or otherwise at the second venue holding games in the same group. England played Scotland at Wembley at Euro 96 Credit: PA That means if England play only two group matches at Wembley, the other will be at Hampden - and vice-versa for Scotland. The only fixture England definitely could not play at home would be any quarter-final, with that round staged in Munich, St Petersburg, Baku and Rome - which was also awarded the opening match of the tournament on Thursday. Belgian capital Brussels was stripped of its four matches over delays to the project to build a new 60,000-capacity stadium in the city. Cardiff’s Principality Stadium and Stockholm’s Friends Arena were competing to pick up the reallocated games, having missed out when they were originally awarded three years ago before receiving the consolation prize of last season’s respective Champions League and Europa League finals. But Uefa - whose president Aleksander Ceferin did not support the pan-European concept created by predecessor Michel Platini to mark the Euros’ 60th anniversary - encouraged the Football Association to present it with a third option in Wembley, the largest and most profitable of all 12 venues. Cardiff is hoping for some games at Euro 2020 having hosted last season's Champions League final Credit: Getty images FA chief executive Martin Glenn said: “We are delighted to help Uefa by hosting the additional four matches at Wembley Stadium. “It’s an honour to be one of the 12 nations that will play a part in this prestigious ‘Euro for Europe’ tournament and I would like to thank the Uefa executive committee for giving us the opportunity to stage these games. “This has been a collective and collaborative process and we could not have done it without the support of the Government and the Mayor of London. Together, we are determined to deliver open, inclusive and memorable events for the fans at one of the world’s greatest stadiums.” Sports minister Tracey Crouch added: “With matches being played across Europe, for the 60th anniversary of the competition, it will be a very special tournament and I know that we will give fans a warm welcome when they visit England's iconic national stadium.” The Football Association of Wales last night declared itself “extremely disappointed” with the decision, declaring Euro 2020 its “one and only chance” of staging a major tournament. Cardiff’s lack of hotels was regarded as a major drawback to its bid. Meanwhile, Uefa also announced the draw seedings for the new Nations League, which will see England play one of Germany, Spain, Portugal or Belgium, and one of Poland, Iceland, Croatia and Holland.

England and Scotland could face Euro 96 repeat in 2020 as Wembley gets more games

England could play their entire 2020 European Championship campaign at Wembley - and could even face Scotland in the group stages - after the home of football was awarded four more fixtures at the tournament. Having already been handed the semi-finals and finals of what had been conceived as a pan-European event, the national stadium was controversially reallocated games originally intended to be played in Brussels. Wembley will now stage an additional three group matches and a last-16 tie to take its total share to seven - more than during Euro 96. And England could play all four of those fixtures at the stadium - as well as any semi-final or final - in a tournament bearing more and more of a resemblance to that when football came home. Those similarities will intensify if both they and Scotland qualify, which would ensure a repeat of their iconic Euro 96 clash - their first and only meeting at a major finals. That was after Uefa announced Wembley and Hampden would stage matches in the same group - Group D - having previously confirmed each of the 12 host countries would play at least two group games at home provided they reach the tournament. Those nations’ third group games, meanwhile, will either also be played at home or otherwise at the second venue holding games in the same group. England played Scotland at Wembley at Euro 96 Credit: PA That means if England play only two group matches at Wembley, the other will be at Hampden - and vice-versa for Scotland. The only fixture England definitely could not play at home would be any quarter-final, with that round staged in Munich, St Petersburg, Baku and Rome - which was also awarded the opening match of the tournament on Thursday. Belgian capital Brussels was stripped of its four matches over delays to the project to build a new 60,000-capacity stadium in the city. Cardiff’s Principality Stadium and Stockholm’s Friends Arena were competing to pick up the reallocated games, having missed out when they were originally awarded three years ago before receiving the consolation prize of last season’s respective Champions League and Europa League finals. But Uefa - whose president Aleksander Ceferin did not support the pan-European concept created by predecessor Michel Platini to mark the Euros’ 60th anniversary - encouraged the Football Association to present it with a third option in Wembley, the largest and most profitable of all 12 venues. Cardiff is hoping for some games at Euro 2020 having hosted last season's Champions League final Credit: Getty images FA chief executive Martin Glenn said: “We are delighted to help Uefa by hosting the additional four matches at Wembley Stadium. “It’s an honour to be one of the 12 nations that will play a part in this prestigious ‘Euro for Europe’ tournament and I would like to thank the Uefa executive committee for giving us the opportunity to stage these games. “This has been a collective and collaborative process and we could not have done it without the support of the Government and the Mayor of London. Together, we are determined to deliver open, inclusive and memorable events for the fans at one of the world’s greatest stadiums.” Sports minister Tracey Crouch added: “With matches being played across Europe, for the 60th anniversary of the competition, it will be a very special tournament and I know that we will give fans a warm welcome when they visit England's iconic national stadium.” The Football Association of Wales last night declared itself “extremely disappointed” with the decision, declaring Euro 2020 its “one and only chance” of staging a major tournament. Cardiff’s lack of hotels was regarded as a major drawback to its bid. Meanwhile, Uefa also announced the draw seedings for the new Nations League, which will see England play one of Germany, Spain, Portugal or Belgium, and one of Poland, Iceland, Croatia and Holland.

England and Scotland could face Euro 96 repeat in 2020 as Wembley gets more games

England could play their entire 2020 European Championship campaign at Wembley - and could even face Scotland in the group stages - after the home of football was awarded four more fixtures at the tournament. Having already been handed the semi-finals and finals of what had been conceived as a pan-European event, the national stadium was controversially reallocated games originally intended to be played in Brussels. Wembley will now stage an additional three group matches and a last-16 tie to take its total share to seven - more than during Euro 96. And England could play all four of those fixtures at the stadium - as well as any semi-final or final - in a tournament bearing more and more of a resemblance to that when football came home. Those similarities will intensify if both they and Scotland qualify, which would ensure a repeat of their iconic Euro 96 clash - their first and only meeting at a major finals. That was after Uefa announced Wembley and Hampden would stage matches in the same group - Group D - having previously confirmed each of the 12 host countries would play at least two group games at home provided they reach the tournament. Those nations’ third group games, meanwhile, will either also be played at home or otherwise at the second venue holding games in the same group. England played Scotland at Wembley at Euro 96 Credit: PA That means if England play only two group matches at Wembley, the other will be at Hampden - and vice-versa for Scotland. The only fixture England definitely could not play at home would be any quarter-final, with that round staged in Munich, St Petersburg, Baku and Rome - which was also awarded the opening match of the tournament on Thursday. Belgian capital Brussels was stripped of its four matches over delays to the project to build a new 60,000-capacity stadium in the city. Cardiff’s Principality Stadium and Stockholm’s Friends Arena were competing to pick up the reallocated games, having missed out when they were originally awarded three years ago before receiving the consolation prize of last season’s respective Champions League and Europa League finals. But Uefa - whose president Aleksander Ceferin did not support the pan-European concept created by predecessor Michel Platini to mark the Euros’ 60th anniversary - encouraged the Football Association to present it with a third option in Wembley, the largest and most profitable of all 12 venues. Cardiff is hoping for some games at Euro 2020 having hosted last season's Champions League final Credit: Getty images FA chief executive Martin Glenn said: “We are delighted to help Uefa by hosting the additional four matches at Wembley Stadium. “It’s an honour to be one of the 12 nations that will play a part in this prestigious ‘Euro for Europe’ tournament and I would like to thank the Uefa executive committee for giving us the opportunity to stage these games. “This has been a collective and collaborative process and we could not have done it without the support of the Government and the Mayor of London. Together, we are determined to deliver open, inclusive and memorable events for the fans at one of the world’s greatest stadiums.” Sports minister Tracey Crouch added: “With matches being played across Europe, for the 60th anniversary of the competition, it will be a very special tournament and I know that we will give fans a warm welcome when they visit England's iconic national stadium.” The Football Association of Wales last night declared itself “extremely disappointed” with the decision, declaring Euro 2020 its “one and only chance” of staging a major tournament. Cardiff’s lack of hotels was regarded as a major drawback to its bid. Meanwhile, Uefa also announced the draw seedings for the new Nations League, which will see England play one of Germany, Spain, Portugal or Belgium, and one of Poland, Iceland, Croatia and Holland.

Cristiano Ronaldo Wins Record-Tying Fifth Ballon D'Or Award

Cristiano Ronaldo has won the 2017 Ballon d'Or, taking home the award for the fourth time in the last five years and matching Lionel Messi's record of winning the prestigious honor for a fifth time.

The Ballon d'Or award, presented by France Football, is given to the world's best soccer player, and either Messi or Ronaldo has won it every year dating back to 2007, when Kaka earned the honors.

The 32-year-old Ronaldo has finished in first or second place in Ballon d'Or voting in each of the last seven years, and excluding 2010 has finished in the top two every year dating back to 2007.

Even as he gets older, Ronaldo has continued to rack up the awards. In October, he was named FIFA's Best Men's Player. In August, he was named UEFA's 2016-17 Best Player in Europe for a third time (the award was instituted in 2010-11). There's still new ground for him to find, evidenced by his latest accomplishment on Wednesday, when he became the first player to score in each of the six group games in the UEFA Champions League.

In 2016, Ronaldo was helped by exploits on both the club and country levels, leading Real Madrid to a Champions League title and helping Portugal to the Euro 2016 championship. In 2017, Ronaldo's campaign was largely boost by his efforts with Real Madrid, as the club won La Liga's title in May and then followed that up with a second straight Champions League title–and 11th overall. Ronaldo was a menace in the knockout stage of the competition, scoring 10 goals in four multi-goal games. He netted twice in the final triumph over Juventus and added hat tricks against Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. He also scored 25 goals in La Liga, helping Real Madrid to a record 33rd title, but its first since 2012.

Ronaldo was still impactful for Portugal, helping the side qualify for the 2018 World Cup by scoring 15 goals in the qualifying round, second only to Poland and Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, who scored 16.

Before crowning Ronaldo, France Football unveiled its 30 finalists in reverse order of how they finished in the voting:

29 (tied). Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool/Brazil) and Dries Mertens (Napoli/Belgium)

28. Edin Dzeko (Roma/Bosnia & Herzegovina)

27. Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich/Germany)

26. Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid/Slovenia)

25. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/France)

24. Radamel Falcao (Monaco/Colombia)

23. Sadio Mane (Liverpool/Senegal)

21 (tied). Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus-AC Milan/Italy) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund/Gabon)

20. David De Gea (Manchester United/Spain)

19. Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Belgium)

18. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/France)

17. Toni Kroos (Real Madrid/Germany)

16. Marcelo (Real Madrid/Brazil)

15. Paulo Dybala (Juventus/Argentina)

14. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/Belgium)

13. Luis Suarez (Barcelona/Uruguay)

12. Isco (Real Madrid/Spain)

11. Edinson Cavani (PSG/Uruguay)

10. Harry Kane (Tottenham/England)

9. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland)

8. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea/France)

7. Kylian Mbappe (Monaco-PSG/France)

6. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid/Spain)

5. Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Croatia)

4. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus/Italy)

3. Neymar (Barcelona-PSG/Brazil)

2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Portugal)

Ballon d'Or 2017: What time is the award announced, who is on the shortlist and will it be Ronaldo or Messi?

What is it? It's the 2017 Ballon d'Or, France Football's annual award for world footballer of the year - the 62nd  When is it? The publication will be unveiling this year's winner on Thursday December 7. What time will it happen? The winner will be announced at 18:45 GMT.  What TV channel is it on? Sadly, it won't be in the UK. But you can follow all the build-up and reaction right here with Telegraph Sport. What happened last year? Cristiano Ronaldo crowned a memorable year by being named the world's best player for a fourth time when he won the 2016 Ballon d'Or on Monday night. The 31-year-old Portugal and Real Madrid foward topped the poll of 173 journalists worldwide. Ronaldo played a crucial role as Real beat city rivals Atletico Madrid in May to become European champions for a record-extending 11th time. The pair have won the last nine Ballon d'Or awards Credit: AFP/Getty Images Then two months later, Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016 in France to claim a major trophy for the first time - despite losing their talisman to injury early on in the final. Ronaldo, who has so far scored 48 goals in 52 games for club and country during 2016, was not able to accept the award in person with the forward currently away in Japan as Real Madrid prepare for the FIFA Club World Cup. Who is on the shortlist? The 30-strong list is below, including England's Harry Kane: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) Leonardo Bonucci (Milan) Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) Edinson Cavani (PSG) Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) David de Gea (Man Utd) Paulo Dybala (Juventus) Edin Dzeko (Roma) Radamel Falcao (Monaco) Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid) Eden Hazard (Chelsea) Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich) Isco (Real Madrid) Harry Kane (Tottenham) N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea) Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) Sadio Mané (Liverpool) Marcelo (Real Madrid) Kylian Mbappé (PSG) Dries Mertens (Napoli) Lionel Messi (Barcelona) Luka Modric (Real Madrid) Neymar (PSG) Jan Oblak (Atlético Madrid) Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) Luis Suárez (Barcelona). Who is favourite to win? There's only one, really. It's rare you see Leo Messi with odds of 8/1 attached to him for anything. Cristiano Ronaldo - 1/20 Leo Messi - 8/1 Neymar - 33/1 Gianluifi Buffon - 50/1 Harry Kane - 80/1 Antoine Griezmann - 100/1 Eden Hazard - 100/1 Kylian Mbappe - 100/1 Who has won the award the most? Yep, you've guessed it - Leo Messi (5) and Cristiano Ronaldo (4). They have won the last nine between them since Kaka's victory in 2007. You can see a full list of winners here. Ballon D'Or | Wins by player  

Ballon d'Or 2017: What time is the award announced, who is on the shortlist and will it be Ronaldo or Messi?

What is it? It's the 2017 Ballon d'Or, France Football's annual award for world footballer of the year - the 62nd  When is it? The publication will be unveiling this year's winner on Thursday December 7. What time will it happen? The winner will be announced at 18:45 GMT.  What TV channel is it on? Sadly, it won't be in the UK. But you can follow all the build-up and reaction right here with Telegraph Sport. What happened last year? Cristiano Ronaldo crowned a memorable year by being named the world's best player for a fourth time when he won the 2016 Ballon d'Or on Monday night. The 31-year-old Portugal and Real Madrid foward topped the poll of 173 journalists worldwide. Ronaldo played a crucial role as Real beat city rivals Atletico Madrid in May to become European champions for a record-extending 11th time. The pair have won the last nine Ballon d'Or awards Credit: AFP/Getty Images Then two months later, Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016 in France to claim a major trophy for the first time - despite losing their talisman to injury early on in the final. Ronaldo, who has so far scored 48 goals in 52 games for club and country during 2016, was not able to accept the award in person with the forward currently away in Japan as Real Madrid prepare for the FIFA Club World Cup. Who is on the shortlist? The 30-strong list is below, including England's Harry Kane: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) Leonardo Bonucci (Milan) Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) Edinson Cavani (PSG) Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) David de Gea (Man Utd) Paulo Dybala (Juventus) Edin Dzeko (Roma) Radamel Falcao (Monaco) Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid) Eden Hazard (Chelsea) Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich) Isco (Real Madrid) Harry Kane (Tottenham) N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea) Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) Sadio Mané (Liverpool) Marcelo (Real Madrid) Kylian Mbappé (PSG) Dries Mertens (Napoli) Lionel Messi (Barcelona) Luka Modric (Real Madrid) Neymar (PSG) Jan Oblak (Atlético Madrid) Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) Luis Suárez (Barcelona). Who is favourite to win? There's only one, really. It's rare you see Leo Messi with odds of 8/1 attached to him for anything. Cristiano Ronaldo - 1/20 Leo Messi - 8/1 Neymar - 33/1 Gianluifi Buffon - 50/1 Harry Kane - 80/1 Antoine Griezmann - 100/1 Eden Hazard - 100/1 Kylian Mbappe - 100/1 Who has won the award the most? Yep, you've guessed it - Leo Messi (5) and Cristiano Ronaldo (4). They have won the last nine between them since Kaka's victory in 2007. You can see a full list of winners here. Ballon D'Or | Wins by player  

Gareth Southgate told he could lose every match at World Cup and remain England manager

Gareth Southgate has been told he could lose every game at the World Cup and not be sacked as England manager. Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn revealed Southgate’s job would not depend on results next summer in a major vote of confidence in the 47-year-old. Glenn declared Southgate “the right man” to take England forward beyond Russia, with the FA happy with his first year in charge and convinced the country is on target for major success following their triumphs in the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups and other age-grade tournaments. Confirming Southgate - appointed on a four-year contract last year - would keep his job irrespective of June’s results against Tunisia, Panama and Belgium, Glenn said: “We’ve got a long-term plan. You’ve seen it; you’ve seen some of the fruits of it. “Long-term plans are hard to defend when the short-term results go against you. “No-one wants to have bad World Cups but we’re confident he’s the right guy to take us through for the next few tournaments.” Glenn declared England would nevertheless travel to the World Cup with the intention of winning it, saying: “What we’re doing is making sure that players that have made it through to the first team by 21, 22, have had lots and lots of tournament experience. “So, those Under-17 winners and Under-20 winners will be coming through - and they are serious, serious competitions to win. “We know that worked for the Germans and we know that worked for the Spanish. So, we’re just repeating things they’ve done with our own emphasis on it. “Gareth has a long-term contract. He’s not looking at Russia as a free pass; he wants to go out there and win. England were humiliated by Iceland at Euro 2016  Credit: Getty Images “But we’re going to do it in a way that’s sustainable. So, we’re going to make sure that we’re picking the kind of players that can do their best in Russia and continue to kick on in 2020 and 2022.” Glenn also challenged Southgate to inspire England to perform in a manner to make the nation “proud” again following limp exits from their last three major tournaments, the last of which cost Roy Hodgson his job. He said: “After three disappointing tournaments, come back to a proud nation. Wherever we go, a performance at the World Cup that’s created a buzz, got people excited. “For me, it’s recreate the excitement that a lot of us remember from the past but, probably, a generation of people haven’t really experienced. I think that’ll be brilliant.” World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know He denied England had been handed a “dream” World Cup draw, despite them being guaranteed to avoid the likes of Brazil, Germany, Argentina, France and Portugal until at least the quarter-finals. “I don’t think any draw’s a dream draw,” he said. “We are up against one of the top teams in the world in Belgium. They’re ranked four or five. “We know a bit about Tunisia. I think we played them in the first game in the 98 World Cup. “We’ve never played Panama so we need to get prepared for those games. “There was definitely a group of death but no-one got it. And no-one got an absolute patsy draw either.”

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 Once more, England were affected by the “Hand of God” but, this time, Diego Maradona’s divine intervention delivered them a World Cup draw that they could have hand-picked themselves. They are in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and first-timers Panama. Maradona – resplendent in a garish yellow bow tie nestled on a black shirt – drew out their ball and the rich irony was not lost on England nor draw host Gary Lineker who commented, in a line he was clearly desperate to deliver, that “Diego has always been good with his hands”. The Argentine cheated and knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup in the quarter-finals (a stage they would accept in Russia next summer) when Lineker was tournament top-scorer. “I thought Gary captured that well,” Gareth Southgate said later. The England manager spoke of facing the unknown and the very well known after a draw which, despite the cautious qualification he placed on it, means there is no excuse if they again fail to get through to the knockout stages. In fact, Southgate looked a relieved man – so much for his poker-face – and even name-checked the fact that he avoided the likes of “serious contenders” Brazil and, from Pot Four, “really dangerous” Serbia. Southgate will also be relieved that having decided to base England the other side of St Petersburg, they do not face the most challenging of journeys to their group games: Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Novgorod on June 24 and then Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. A total travelling distance of 4,050 miles – less than the 6,000-plus, and different time-zones, it could have been. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know If they get through then the last-16 is relatively kind, with England facing a nation from Group H – possibly Poland, Senegal or Colombia – although it would, potentially, be a quarter-final against holders Germany. But let’s not get carried away. Not this time. “I go back to the last two tournaments, really,” Southgate said when asked what was his message to England fans. “We have to be focused, to make sure nothing is taken for granted which, in fairness, I don’t think is what happened. But we also have to handle the expectation of being one of the favourite teams in the group. For us, as a team, when you’re involved with England that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. “You know as a second seed you’re going to play two teams ranked below you. But it’s still a bit of an unknown at this moment, it’s great now to get the videos out and start plotting and following exactly the players we’re going to be up against and the coaches.” The presence of Belgium is fascinating and not least because of their formidable cadre of talent but also because most of it plays in the Premier League and they are coached by former Everton manager, Roberto Martinez. The interaction between the players from the various clubs – in particular Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – will be an interesting sub-plot ahead of the World Cup.  “Belgium we know pretty much everything about,” Southgate said. “That will capture everyone’s imagination at home. Probably the best team they have ever had. There will be a bit of banter going on at Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea with all the players winding each other up.” Gareth Southgate's (left England side will meet Roberto Martinez's Belgium in Group G Credit: Getty Images But Southgate knows that a composite team of the two sides would see few England players making it alongside the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens. That really is a ‘golden generation’. While they are very well-known there is a little more mystery with Tunisia and, certainly, Panama. “There’s quite a bit of unknown in the group,” Southgate conceded. “We’ve never played Panama, I have ‘palled up’ with the coach from Mexico [Juan Carlos Osorio], so I was hoping he’d give me some insight.” There is, though, a familiar face in Panama’s coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, who was in charge of his native Colombia when they faced a David Beckham-inspired England at the 1998 World Cup when, of course, Southgate was on the bench. Southgate also played against Tunisia in the tournament and the memories flooded back. “Tunisia takes me back to Marseille, one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere down there,” Southgate said. “Just the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game. It was a brilliant day. I remember sitting with Teddy Sheringham in doping control for an hour and a half afterwards. ‘‘It will be brilliant occasion to be leading the country out into that same occasion, the first game of the World Cup. I am hugely proud.” That is the known, also, but there is plenty more of the unknown – and not least from England themselves. “I think what I’m mindful of is that we have a team I’m excited about but who don’t have the trophies and medals, the number of caps which winners and successful teams in past tournaments have had,’ Southgate said. “But equally I’m excited about them, I believe in them and we’re really looking forward to the World Cup.” “But we have just come from two tournaments where Costa Rica and Iceland knocked us out. It would be folly for us not to be serious about our preparation, but also not being fearful. It is an important balance.”  England should have a sense of equilibrium after this draw. 5:27PM A guide to the teams You can find out everything (or at least a lot) about the competing countries in the Russia World Cup right here in our guide. 4:59PM Argentina vs Nigeria again 5 - Nigeria have been drawn in the same group as Argentina for the fifth time in their six World Cup tournaments. Repeat. #WorldCupDraw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2017 The last time was in 2014, when the score was Argentina 3 - 2 Nigeria. A repeat of that would be amazing - particularly Messi's superb free-kick goal.    4:44PM Great spot Absolutely delighted to see that Diego Maradona is still wearing a watch on each wrist. #WorldCupDrawpic.twitter.com/GD5eY2myEx— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) December 1, 2017   4:29PM Gareth Southgate says "It's the first thing that went through my mind [playing Tunisia in 1998], it was a fantastic day to play in as a player and nice to relive that.  "Well we've got to find that out now, we haven't done as much research on the African teams yet but now we can really start to focus on that. "I guess again there's a little bit of travelling and there's maybe a bit of room for injuries to clear them up. We've been good at writing teams off and getting beat by them haven't we? We're going to make sure we're prepared for these games. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it now. "It's been great today mixing with some of the more experienced managers at World Cups but of course Roberto [Martinez] is in the same position as me.  "Travel wise the way the tournament is now you've got to be adaptable on the road.  "They're an outstanding team, they're ranked where they are in the world because of the players they have. That is top quality opposition. "I think we've got to focus on the first game and go from there. The objective is to qualify from the group, there'll be ups and downs along the way. "Through the qualifying campaign you don't think about days like today where it hits home. That's the beauty of the World Cup. It takes you back to that pureness of football. The whole country can get excited for it. "To play for my country was an incredible honour, to lead my country is beyond that." 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

Top 10 Takeaways From the 2018 World Cup Draw

The draw for World Cup 2018 took place on Friday, and there’s plenty to talk about. Here are my 10 thoughts on the event, starting with the shadow hanging over it all in these parts of the world, where it was yet another gut punch for USA fans given the painful reminder that their team won't be participating.

If the night of October 10 was the worst night for fans of the United States—that, after all, was the night the U.S. lost to Trinidad and Tobago and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986—then Friday was the second-worst feeling. Seeing all 32 World Cup teams learn their group opponents reminded everyone that the U.S. somehow couldn’t advance from one of the world’s easiest qualifying regions and somehow couldn’t advance from a group that provided an enormous margin for error. It’s still a surreal feeling that the U.S. won’t be in Russia next year, but as Friday showed, it’s very much real, indeed.

As for the nations that will be participating:

There is no true Group of Death, and that’s a good thing

FIFA changed the rules for this World Cup draw and for the first time seeded all 32 teams (according to the FIFA rankings) instead of just the top eight. For the first time in recorded history, I find myself writing: Good idea, FIFA! Instead of using a format that produced wildly imbalanced groups over the years, this FIFA draw created much more balanced groups that are in the interest of sporting equality and good soccer. Yes, there are some difficult groups (like Group D with Argentina, Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria), and there are some easier ones (like Group A with Russia, Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia), but nobody truly got screwed, and nobody got a truly gift draw. Except for …

Well, yes, Russia did get a gift draw

You can start up the conspiracy theory machine for FIFA and the Russian hosts, who boast the lowest-ranked team in the entire 32-nation field. Of the 24 teams that Russia could have drawn for its opening-game opponent, it just so happened to get Saudi Arabia—the next-to-lowest-ranked team in the 32-nation field. If Russia can bag three points in its first game with the whole world watching, its chances of advancing will increase dramatically. Nor is it inconceivable that the Russians could follow that up with another couple of points against Group A opponents Uruguay and Egypt. World Cups are always more fun when the host country does well, and the chances of the host country to survive group play increased dramatically on Friday.

Mexico faces a big challenge in search of the elusive Fifth Game

El Tri has gone out in its fourth game of the last six World Cups, and so its quest for El Quinto Partido has taken on a mythical significance. Friday’s draw didn’t help, however. I think Mexico will advance from a group that includes Germany, Sweden and South Korea—although Sweden could improve dramatically if Zlatan Ibrahimovic comes out of international retirement—but the problem for Mexico is who stands in its way. It will be awfully hard to take first place in its group ahead of defending champion Germany, and if Mexico finishes second it will likely have to face Brazil in the round of 16. If Mexico fulfills its quest for the Fifth Game, it will have to earn it.

The opening days of the World Cup have some terrific games

Forget the stinker on the very first day between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The three days after that each have some mouth-watering matchups. Day Two features Portugal against Spain, which will pit Cristiano Ronaldo’s European champions against my pick to win the tournament. Let’s just say there will be plenty of familiarity between the Spanish club-based players in this game. Day Three brings us Argentina-Iceland, which will have Lionel Messi (going after his elusive World Cup triumph) coming up against the tournament’s most popular underdog. Day Four gives us Germany-Mexico, an opportunity for El Tri to measure itself up against the defending champs.

African teams are set up for a resurgence

Back in the 1990s, everyone said it wouldn’t be long before an African team won the World Cup. We’re still waiting for it, and in fact African teams have greatly underperformed in recent World Cups (and have yet to put a team in the semifinals). That could change this time around. I have Egypt, Nigeria and Senegal emerging from their groups, and I would be stunned if one or more of them doesn’t make the quarterfinals. (Morocco, which didn’t give up a goal in six final-round qualifying games, could also make a run.) In fact, this tournament could see Egypt’s Mohamed Salah break out into becoming a legit global superstar. The Egyptians should be one of the happiest teams from Friday’s draw after being put in a group with Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia.

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Can Belgium break its quarterfinal curse?

Based on talent alone, this glorious Belgium team is one of the top four nations in the tournament. But will it become one of the top four teams by making the semifinals? Belgium went out in the quarterfinals of both World Cup 2014 (to Argentina) and Euro 2016 (to Wales), and if it fails to make a deep run this time around, there will be plenty of questions about whether this amazing generation has run out of chances. Perhaps the biggest problem in the last two major tournaments was coach Marc Wilmots, who was hopelessly out of his depth. Roberto Martínez is an upgrade. Belgium drew a relatively easy group (England, Tunisia, Panama), and even the second round shouldn’t be a killer, but a potential quarterfinal game against Brazil would be a real measuring stick of whether Belgium can win the World Cup.

A few groups are remarkably balanced

Consider Group H, with Poland, Colombia, Senegal and Japan. Nobody in the group will be seen as a real threat to win the tournament, but you could envision scenarios in which any of the four advance to the knockout rounds. It’s not a Group of Death, but rather a Group of Extreme Parity. That should make things fun for neutrals, who simply want to see as much entertaining soccer as possible. The same type of parity can be seen in Group D (Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria). The only team that most would think has a chance to win the World Cup is Argentina—and even that point is debatable—but all four are good teams. Why it took so long for FIFA to seed all 32 teams at the draw is beyond me, but I’m glad it finally happened.

One challenge at this World Cup will be for international soccer to get its mojo back

With more balanced groups, one hopes that the international game will begin to have a resurgence in comparison to the club game. One unfortunate development in recent times has been the suffering in quality of international soccer, which has fallen significantly below that of club soccer. The measuring stick for quality these days is the UEFA Champions League, not the World Cup, and that’s a shame. We could use a World Cup that excites the masses around the world with the style of its play, but there’s certainly no guarantee that will happen.

Asia is the new Africa

I don’t have a single team from Asia advancing from its group. The current editions of Australia, Japan and South Korea just aren’t as good as the predecessors from their countries, and Saudi Arabia’s goal should be simply not to be as awful as the 2002 Saudi World Cup team was. One potential ray of hope for Asia is Iran, which was dominant in World Cup qualifying and could throw a scare into Portugal (just as Morocco could, too). But don’t look for the days of South Korea making the 2002 World Cup semifinals to repeat themselves in 2018.

World Cup draw 2018 live: England drawn with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018 England have been drawn with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in World Cup Group G and will surely be confident – if they can ever be confident – of making it through to the last-16. Seeded second England will kick off against Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday June 18 and then face Panama – at their first ever World Cup – in Novgorod on June 24 and then they will play their final group match against top seeds Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28. That final fixture will have a very Premier League feel to it given the large number of Belgians – from Kevin de Bruyne to Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku in the Red Devils team who are coached by former Everton manager Roberto Martinez. The Belgians, too, will be pleased with the draw, and did not want to face England in the group stages, and although the make-up of the groups was designed to avoid so-called Groups of Death then there are some which are tougher than others. World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know Group B has Spain and Portugal along with Morocco and Iran while in Group D there is Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. England will have been pleased to have avoided those. It could have been far tougher for England but they will be wary given their previous failings not least against smaller, unfancied nations. The fact they play Belgium in their final tie may also be to their advantage and despite the strength of their opponents England have lost just one of their 21 previous international matches against Belgium (2-3 in 1936). If England win their group – a huge if - the likely route would be Colombia in Rostov, Brazil in Kazan, France in St Petersburg and then the final in Moscow… but let us not get carried away. 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup draw 2018: live updates and England latest

World Cup Draw Live Widget 2018   World Cup 2018 fixtures and full schedule Russia 2018 World Cup predictor: Decide the tournament from group stage to winner 4:06PM Play our predictor! Predict away and see what you think will happen in the World Cup in the summer. The excitement has begun! I've just done it and ended up with a Brazil vs Argentina final. Imagine that? 4:04PM Jose Fonte's thoughts Fonte won Euro 2016 with Portugal and is on the BBC's coverage of the World Cup draw: "Definitely a good group to watch. We have to play them all and very exciting first game! Morocco is strong, Iran have a Portuguese manager (Carlos Queiroz). "It's a very big rivalry, it will be like a derby. It will be fascinating for sure, everyone will be up for it. "Obviously we are the European champions and have ambitions but we have to take it game by game. We are confident we can do it but have to keep our feet on the ground and approach like we did the Euros." 4:01PM England vs Tunisia   4:00PM Which one is the Group of Death? There's always one but these all look pretty well balanced. Group B is tough on Morocco and Iran, Brazil have tough games against Switzerland and Serbia... it all looks dead equal on the face of things.  England have a winnable group, you'd think Germany, France, Argentina will make it out too, but there are a lot of similarly matched countries in there. 3:56PM England play Panama! It's got a lovely big canal and England will be made to battle with it. The country, not the canal. Group G is Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England... Southgate should be delighted with that. Japan go into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia. 3:55PM Pot 4 continued Australia have France, Peru and Denmark in Group C.  *in voice of ISS64 commentator* It's NIGERIA! Who are in Group D with Argentina. That's five games against Argentina in six World Cups for Nigeria... what an odd coincidence. Leo Messi has to take on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria then if Argentina are to progress. 3:53PM Pot 4 Come on. Saudi Arabia in Group A. So Russia have Egypt, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia. My word, that will be a struggle.  Serbia have to go into Group E because of the number of European teams in the other groups and that means they have to play Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. That's a difficult one. Strong group. Morocco are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran and will do well to escape.  3:50PM Pot 3 continued Sweden are in Group F. And next is Group G... Tunisia! They play against England in a World Cup again, and that will be on 18th June, Friday night at 7pm. England's first opponents!  Senegal are in with Poland and Colombia. 3:48PM Pot 3 Credit: FIFA  Egypt are in Group A, Denmark can't go into Group B because there are already two European teams there and move to Group C with Argentina and Croatia.  Iran are next and they drop into Group B with Portugal and Spain. Iceland "who have more volcanoes than professional footballers," says Lineker, are in Group D and their opening match is against Argentina. What a magical start to a World Cup that is for Gylfi Sigurdsson and friends. Costa Rica are in Group E. That leaves Tunisia and Senegal for England. 3:44PM ENGLAND are in Group G And will take on Belgium in the final match of the group.  That leaves Colombia to be drawn with Poland in H3. 3:43PM Pot 2 continued Peru are in Group C with France. And in Group D, Argentina will play... Croatia!  And Diego Maradona has the next ball and has pulled out Switzerland. They go into Group E with Brazil and that will be the first game of the group. Who's getting Germany? Is it England? Will England be in the doomed Group F with Germany?! ooooooooOOOOOOHHHHH no it's Mexico! Mexico are in Group F. 3:39PM Pot 2 England's group! Who are they going to get?! First out is... Uruguay, the two time winners of the tournament, and they will go to A4, which means Russia vs Uruguay is the final game of Group A. Spain! Spain go into Group B with Portugal! Oocha, that's a big one. And that's the first game of Group B! What a match that will be! 3:37PM Pot 1 teams Credit: BONGARTS Portugal are in Group B, France in Group C, Argentina Group D, Brazil in Group E, Germany in Group F! That's interesting because... Group F is the only group to have never produced a World Cup winner. That leaves Belgium in Group G and Poland in Group H. 3:33PM First team out Russia! What a surprise! It is of course not a surprise because it was planned they'd be first. And they're in A1! Also planned. They were in a red ball rather than a white. 3:32PM Pre-draw entertainment Credit: BONGARTS   3:30PM Smooth linking "How does it compare being the top scorer in the '86 World Cup to hosting this event?" asks one of the Russian hosts to Gary Lineker. In painfully articulated English, he replies: "It will be very different. Football came naturally, I think I'd prefer to take a penalty in the World Cup final but I'll do my best." 3:28PM Gordon Banks onstage! Faces of football past are onstage in the Kremlin, accompanied by women dressed as Russian dolls. It looks... weird.  Banks, Diego Forlan, Diego Maradona, Laurent Blanc, Cafu, Carles Puyol and NOW IT'S GARY LINEKER - our holy leader. Take us to the draw, Gary. 3:24PM Body language experts welcome Credit: FIFA It starts as a normal handshake, Putin puts his left hand around Infantino's and then Infantino doesn't seem to want to let go of their 'bro' handshake embrace. There's almost certainly nothing to read here but it's still interesting. Look at Infantino, acting like he's a real president. 3:20PM Gareth Southgate on England's hopes "I think the longest flight is three hours. We do that on our way to St George's.  "We have high potential, what we lack is experience of those big matches, few have won trophies. We can't go to a World Cup and not try to win it. A lot of these players will peak in three or four years but we can't write off the tournament.  "Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment. It's not up to me to put a limit on their expectations." 3:16PM Shearer's not having it "They have the best jets, the best coaches... I'm not a believer it makes that much difference." Russia is rather large and if a team sets up camp on the west and has games drawn on the east... it's a lot of time spent inside a travelling vehicle. However, Shearer, a man who has actually experienced the travel involved in an international tournament, says that players aren't really that affected by having to travel hundreds of miles between games. 3:10PM Vladimir Putin is on stage Credit: AFP "Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations. "The most coveted trophy will be won by the team showing the most resilience. I would like to wish success to all the teams and I call upon all loyal fans to come to Russia and enjoy the finals of 2018. "Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament. Thanks to all 11 Host Cities who are doing a tremendous job" 3:10PM The teams World Cup draw   3:06PM Messi on World Cup 2014   3:04PM Shenanigans Not a good start to the #WorldCupDraw Some sound problems in the hall.— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) December 1, 2017   3:03PM Alan Shearer's take on England's chances "We've not had any problem getting to World Cups, the problem is when we're there! We've been dreadful in tournaments, so I'm looking forward to some improvement. "[Low expectations] hasn't in the past - there weren't in France and England disappointed us hugely then. We have to show progression and improvement but that shouldn't be hard. 3:00PM Here comes the show Credit: FIFA   2:55PM More superstars Credit: AP The actual room is full now, which is good since the draw starts in five minutes. Or at least the entertainment begins. Personally, I'd by happy to watch Ronaldinho juggle the ball for half an hour and then just be told who's playing who.  2:48PM Fifa's wonderful handling of journalists asking them questions Infantino now lecturing 100s of journos on why we're here/what we should be asking. Implies only UK hacks care about doping & corruption & if journos from Peru or Australia had asked Qs he'd be talking about football....the Qs actually came from Brazil, Germany & 2 US outlets— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) December 1, 2017   2:45PM There are a couple of good 5-a-side teams here Backstage!!! #WorldCup#FIFALegendspic.twitter.com/D5xYzougPO— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017   2:43PM World Cup stadiums World Cup 2018 stadiums   2:29PM Three points if you remember this guy's name Credit: TASS (It's Zvonimir Boban, who used to play in midfield for Croatia). 2:18PM Diego Maradona Credit: AFP Many people will argue that Lionel Messi will not be truly regarded as the best player ever until he wins an international tournament, eternally trapped in the shadows of Maradona should he fail to do so. The original Argentinian king of the dribble, Maradona is in Russia to see who his beloved Argentina get. Considering Messi will turn 31 during the tournament, this could be his best and last chance to win while in his prime. 2:07PM The stage is set Credit: AFP  The stage for the draw looks ever so slightly similar to the X Factor or one of those other Simon Cowell creations. Here's hoping Louis Walsh isn't there to critique Carles Puyol on his ball drawing skills. Credit: AFP They've even cleaned the stage floor! Preparation. Sadly there are no jokes you can even make about hiring staff to sweep up a Fifa-made mess. 1:55PM A handy explainer   1:49PM Gary Lineker defends decision to host World Cup draw A bit of a controversial one? Gary Lineker has been one of the most vocal critics of Fifa but will host today's draw. Ben Rumsby wrote this in Moscow: Arch-Fifa critic Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy since being announced last month as the surprise choice to present the ceremony in Moscow alongside Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya. The Match of the Day host and BT Sport presenter, who will also anchor the BBC’s World Cup coverage next summer, has repeatedly attacked the game’s governing body and Russia’s hosting of its flagship tournament. Lineker, part of the delegation which failed to convince Fifa to vote for England’s rival 2018 bid seven years ago, has previously accused it of being a “revolting organisation” and behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”. 1:28PM Southgate vows not to take World Cup opponents lightly Credit: FIFA Gareth Southgate has said that England are looking to set up camp in St Petersburg, a city which could, as Jason Burt has written: "Bring up the nightmare scenario in which his side travel more than 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than they did in Brazil – for the three group matches". 1:22PM Paolo Wanchope is here Credit: REUTERS This is how you know its legit. Paolo Wanchope, the star of that goal against Manchester United for Derby, is on the red carpet doing some chatting. What is talking about? We have no way of knowing for sure. But I suspect it'll be about that goal he scored for Derby while playing against Manchester United. Former England player Alex Scott is also there. Basically, everyone is arriving now, for a draw which takes place in over an hour and a half, which makes me suspect that this draw might be more of a spectacle than simply watching some football people pull balls out of a glass bowl. Kasabian played some music at the Fifa Best Player Award show. Today it could be anyone. Let's hope for someone good. The Hives would be nice. Credit: BONGARTS Germany have turned up too. Jogi Loew's side are in Pot 1, which means they could potentially be drawn alongside England...  1:09PM Hello Good afternoon and welcome to our liveblog as we cover all the action from the World Cup draw! What will the groups look like, who will England play, who will come up against Lionel Messi's Argentina? All the answers to these questions and more will be answered at some point after 3pm when the draw actually takes place. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko  Vitaly Mutko took part in a press conference earlier today alongside Fifa president, Gianni Infantino: Credit: PA Ex-president Sepp Blatter claims that European draws have been rigged in the past but current boss Infantino is adamant that everything in this international version will be entirely legitimate for today's draw in a very cold Moscow. And if there are two organisations you know you can trust, its Fifa and the Russian government. Reassuring.  12:56PM Preview Russia will host the 2018 World Cup draw in the next few hours, the glittering ceremony providing a welcome distraction to the unrelenting diet of doping and corruption news that has sullied the nation's sporting reputation in recent years. The draw ceremony gives Russia the chance to showcase the cities and stadiums that will host the 32 teams next June and July. Former England striker Gary Lineker, the 1986 World Cup's Golden Boot winner as leading goalscorer, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya are the main presenters. In a new simplified format, the teams will be placed in pots one to four from highest to lowest FIFA ranking with the exception of Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, who are automatically in pot one alongside the top seeds. Each pot will be emptied one by one into eight groups which will contain four teams each. Two non-European teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group to avoid geographic clashes. With 14 qualified European teams there cannot be more than two European teams in the same group. "Really to be honest, if you are going to win the World Cup, it doesn't matter who comes out of that draw," draw assistant Gordon Banks, who won the 1966 World Cup with England, told reporters on Thursday at the Kremlin. "Because you've got to get out there and you've got to play the best you can. Play as a team and keep going, and that's what we did when we won it." Reuters

World Cup 2018 draw pots, seedings and how it works

Follow the World Cup 2018 draw here and find out who England get in their group The World Cup 2018 draw has arrived. All 32 teams will find out this afternoon which group they will feature in next summer's tournament. Here is all you need to know about how each pot came about, the seedings and more. How were the pots decided? The four World Cup pots have been filled depending on each team's Fifa world ranking as of October this year. Russia have automatically been placed in pot one as hosts and they're joined by the top-seven ranked teams in the world including Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France. World Cup 2018 | 32 teams who will make up next year's tournament The next eight top-ranked teams are in pot two, the following eight in pot three and the lowest ranked eight in pot four. 2010 world champions Spain are the top-ranked team in pot two and take their place alongside teams including England, Uruguay and Croatia.  Denmark are the highest-ranked team in pot three after demolishing the Republic of Ireland in their one-sided World Cup play-off.  England's Euro 2016 conquerors Iceland are also in pot three after beating Croatia to top spot in Group I.  Iceland qualified for the 2018 World Cup as group winners  Credit: AFP  The Nordic nation will be the only country in next year's tournament with a population of less than one million people. Serbia, whose star players include Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Dusan Tadic, are the only non-European team in pot four. Panama take their place in pot four ahead of what will be their first World Cup appearance in their history. The Central-American nation booked their place in Russia with an 88th-minute winner over Costa Rica that also denied USA a place in next year's tournament.  What are the pots? World Cup draw How will the draw work? Eight groups will be drawn in total, from A-H. Each group will contain one team from each pot. No team can be drawn alongside another team from the same pot. No teams from the same confederation, with the exception of Uefa, will be drawn in the same group.  A maximum of two European countries can be in any group. A fully-clothed Gary Lineker will present the World Cup draw  Credit: BBC Match of the Day Twitter  Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker will conduct the draw alongside Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya. "As a player, I was fortunate enough to take part in the World Cup finals on two occasions," Lineker told Fifa's official website. "It is quite special to be involved in yet another tournament, now on the stage, unveiling the results of the draw. "I have been on the other side, waiting to find out my opponents, and I know how exciting this occasion is." Guests from each one of the top-eight ranked sides will help conduct the draw, including Diego Maradona, Cafu, Laurent Blanc and Fabio Cannavaro. Who could England get? Russia 2018 World Cup Draw Simulator As a pot-two team, England could draw anyone from pot one including Brazil, Germany, Argentina and France.  If England do draw a European team from pot one then that will mean they cannot be drawn alongside any other team from Uefa, including Denmark, Iceland, Sweden or Serbia. England manager Gareth Southgate says he will gauge his side's success by their World Cup performances rather than how far they go in the tournament. England recorded two goalless draws against Germany and Brazil earlier this month  Credit: Getty Images  “I think, in my mind, my gauge of success would be that we come back from the tournament with the fans proud of how we’ve played and that means we’ll have played well and won some matches. "So that’s my focus, to focus on the performances and to constantly improve on the performances.” England have eliminated via penalty shootouts in six major tournaments since the 1990 World Cup in Italy and Gareth Southgate has suggested he may make his players practice penalties in front of a crowd at Wembley to mimic the high-pressure conditions of a World Cup shootout.  "It's something that we are considering how we prepare best for penalty shoot-outs," said Southgate. "Whether that's something on the training ground, whether that's in sessions we do away from the training ground, or something we do in some sort of match scenario. "We've not finalised that yet but clearly that [match situation] is an option." World Cup betting odds World Cup holders Germany are joint-favourites to retain the trophy alongside five-time winners Brazil.  England are priced at odds of 20/1 to end 52 years of hurt and lift the World Cup trophy.  Germany 5/1  Brazil 5/1  Spain 7/1  Argentina 8/1  Belgium 12/1  England 20/1 

World Cup 2018 draw pots, seedings and how it works

Follow the World Cup 2018 draw here and find out who England get in their group The World Cup 2018 draw has arrived. All 32 teams will find out this afternoon which group they will feature in next summer's tournament. Here is all you need to know about how each pot came about, the seedings and more. How were the pots decided? The four World Cup pots have been filled depending on each team's Fifa world ranking as of October this year. Russia have automatically been placed in pot one as hosts and they're joined by the top-seven ranked teams in the world including Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France. World Cup 2018 | 32 teams who will make up next year's tournament The next eight top-ranked teams are in pot two, the following eight in pot three and the lowest ranked eight in pot four. 2010 world champions Spain are the top-ranked team in pot two and take their place alongside teams including England, Uruguay and Croatia.  Denmark are the highest-ranked team in pot three after demolishing the Republic of Ireland in their one-sided World Cup play-off.  England's Euro 2016 conquerors Iceland are also in pot three after beating Croatia to top spot in Group I.  Iceland qualified for the 2018 World Cup as group winners  Credit: AFP  The Nordic nation will be the only country in next year's tournament with a population of less than one million people. Serbia, whose star players include Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Dusan Tadic, are the only non-European team in pot four. Panama take their place in pot four ahead of what will be their first World Cup appearance in their history. The Central-American nation booked their place in Russia with an 88th-minute winner over Costa Rica that also denied USA a place in next year's tournament.  What are the pots? World Cup draw How will the draw work? Eight groups will be drawn in total, from A-H. Each group will contain one team from each pot. No team can be drawn alongside another team from the same pot. No teams from the same confederation, with the exception of Uefa, will be drawn in the same group.  A maximum of two European countries can be in any group. A fully-clothed Gary Lineker will present the World Cup draw  Credit: BBC Match of the Day Twitter  Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker will conduct the draw alongside Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya. "As a player, I was fortunate enough to take part in the World Cup finals on two occasions," Lineker told Fifa's official website. "It is quite special to be involved in yet another tournament, now on the stage, unveiling the results of the draw. "I have been on the other side, waiting to find out my opponents, and I know how exciting this occasion is." Guests from each one of the top-eight ranked sides will help conduct the draw, including Diego Maradona, Cafu, Laurent Blanc and Fabio Cannavaro. Who could England get? Russia 2018 World Cup Draw Simulator As a pot-two team, England could draw anyone from pot one including Brazil, Germany, Argentina and France.  If England do draw a European team from pot one then that will mean they cannot be drawn alongside any other team from Uefa, including Denmark, Iceland, Sweden or Serbia. England manager Gareth Southgate says he will gauge his side's success by their World Cup performances rather than how far they go in the tournament. England recorded two goalless draws against Germany and Brazil earlier this month  Credit: Getty Images  “I think, in my mind, my gauge of success would be that we come back from the tournament with the fans proud of how we’ve played and that means we’ll have played well and won some matches. "So that’s my focus, to focus on the performances and to constantly improve on the performances.” England have eliminated via penalty shootouts in six major tournaments since the 1990 World Cup in Italy and Gareth Southgate has suggested he may make his players practice penalties in front of a crowd at Wembley to mimic the high-pressure conditions of a World Cup shootout.  "It's something that we are considering how we prepare best for penalty shoot-outs," said Southgate. "Whether that's something on the training ground, whether that's in sessions we do away from the training ground, or something we do in some sort of match scenario. "We've not finalised that yet but clearly that [match situation] is an option." World Cup betting odds World Cup holders Germany are joint-favourites to retain the trophy alongside five-time winners Brazil.  England are priced at odds of 20/1 to end 52 years of hurt and lift the World Cup trophy.  Germany 5/1  Brazil 5/1  Spain 7/1  Argentina 8/1  Belgium 12/1  England 20/1 

World Cup 2018 draw pots, seedings and how it works

Follow the World Cup 2018 draw here and find out who England get in their group The World Cup 2018 draw has arrived. All 32 teams will find out this afternoon which group they will feature in next summer's tournament. Here is all you need to know about how each pot came about, the seedings and more. How were the pots decided? The four World Cup pots have been filled depending on each team's Fifa world ranking as of October this year. Russia have automatically been placed in pot one as hosts and they're joined by the top-seven ranked teams in the world including Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France. World Cup 2018 | 32 teams who will make up next year's tournament The next eight top-ranked teams are in pot two, the following eight in pot three and the lowest ranked eight in pot four. 2010 world champions Spain are the top-ranked team in pot two and take their place alongside teams including England, Uruguay and Croatia.  Denmark are the highest-ranked team in pot three after demolishing the Republic of Ireland in their one-sided World Cup play-off.  England's Euro 2016 conquerors Iceland are also in pot three after beating Croatia to top spot in Group I.  Iceland qualified for the 2018 World Cup as group winners  Credit: AFP  The Nordic nation will be the only country in next year's tournament with a population of less than one million people. Serbia, whose star players include Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Dusan Tadic, are the only non-European team in pot four. Panama take their place in pot four ahead of what will be their first World Cup appearance in their history. The Central-American nation booked their place in Russia with an 88th-minute winner over Costa Rica that also denied USA a place in next year's tournament.  What are the pots? World Cup draw How will the draw work? Eight groups will be drawn in total, from A-H. Each group will contain one team from each pot. No team can be drawn alongside another team from the same pot. No teams from the same confederation, with the exception of Uefa, will be drawn in the same group.  A maximum of two European countries can be in any group. A fully-clothed Gary Lineker will present the World Cup draw  Credit: BBC Match of the Day Twitter  Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker will conduct the draw alongside Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya. "As a player, I was fortunate enough to take part in the World Cup finals on two occasions," Lineker told Fifa's official website. "It is quite special to be involved in yet another tournament, now on the stage, unveiling the results of the draw. "I have been on the other side, waiting to find out my opponents, and I know how exciting this occasion is." Guests from each one of the top-eight ranked sides will help conduct the draw, including Diego Maradona, Cafu, Laurent Blanc and Fabio Cannavaro. Who could England get? Russia 2018 World Cup Draw Simulator As a pot-two team, England could draw anyone from pot one including Brazil, Germany, Argentina and France.  If England do draw a European team from pot one then that will mean they cannot be drawn alongside any other team from Uefa, including Denmark, Iceland, Sweden or Serbia. England manager Gareth Southgate says he will gauge his side's success by their World Cup performances rather than how far they go in the tournament. England recorded two goalless draws against Germany and Brazil earlier this month  Credit: Getty Images  “I think, in my mind, my gauge of success would be that we come back from the tournament with the fans proud of how we’ve played and that means we’ll have played well and won some matches. "So that’s my focus, to focus on the performances and to constantly improve on the performances.” England have eliminated via penalty shootouts in six major tournaments since the 1990 World Cup in Italy and Gareth Southgate has suggested he may make his players practice penalties in front of a crowd at Wembley to mimic the high-pressure conditions of a World Cup shootout.  "It's something that we are considering how we prepare best for penalty shoot-outs," said Southgate. "Whether that's something on the training ground, whether that's in sessions we do away from the training ground, or something we do in some sort of match scenario. "We've not finalised that yet but clearly that [match situation] is an option." World Cup betting odds World Cup holders Germany are joint-favourites to retain the trophy alongside five-time winners Brazil.  England are priced at odds of 20/1 to end 52 years of hurt and lift the World Cup trophy.  Germany 5/1  Brazil 5/1  Spain 7/1  Argentina 8/1  Belgium 12/1  England 20/1 

World Cup 2018 draw pots, seedings and how it works

Follow the World Cup 2018 draw here and find out who England get in their group The World Cup 2018 draw has arrived. All 32 teams will find out this afternoon which group they will feature in next summer's tournament. Here is all you need to know about how each pot came about, the seedings and more. How were the pots decided? The four World Cup pots have been filled depending on each team's Fifa world ranking as of October this year. Russia have automatically been placed in pot one as hosts and they're joined by the top-seven ranked teams in the world including Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France. World Cup 2018 | 32 teams who will make up next year's tournament The next eight top-ranked teams are in pot two, the following eight in pot three and the lowest ranked eight in pot four. 2010 world champions Spain are the top-ranked team in pot two and take their place alongside teams including England, Uruguay and Croatia.  Denmark are the highest-ranked team in pot three after demolishing the Republic of Ireland in their one-sided World Cup play-off.  England's Euro 2016 conquerors Iceland are also in pot three after beating Croatia to top spot in Group I.  Iceland qualified for the 2018 World Cup as group winners  Credit: AFP  The Nordic nation will be the only country in next year's tournament with a population of less than one million people. Serbia, whose star players include Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Dusan Tadic, are the only non-European team in pot four. Panama take their place in pot four ahead of what will be their first World Cup appearance in their history. The Central-American nation booked their place in Russia with an 88th-minute winner over Costa Rica that also denied USA a place in next year's tournament.  What are the pots? World Cup draw How will the draw work? Eight groups will be drawn in total, from A-H. Each group will contain one team from each pot. No team can be drawn alongside another team from the same pot. No teams from the same confederation, with the exception of Uefa, will be drawn in the same group.  A maximum of two European countries can be in any group. A fully-clothed Gary Lineker will present the World Cup draw  Credit: BBC Match of the Day Twitter  Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker will conduct the draw alongside Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya. "As a player, I was fortunate enough to take part in the World Cup finals on two occasions," Lineker told Fifa's official website. "It is quite special to be involved in yet another tournament, now on the stage, unveiling the results of the draw. "I have been on the other side, waiting to find out my opponents, and I know how exciting this occasion is." Guests from each one of the top-eight ranked sides will help conduct the draw, including Diego Maradona, Cafu, Laurent Blanc and Fabio Cannavaro. Who could England get? Russia 2018 World Cup Draw Simulator As a pot-two team, England could draw anyone from pot one including Brazil, Germany, Argentina and France.  If England do draw a European team from pot one then that will mean they cannot be drawn alongside any other team from Uefa, including Denmark, Iceland, Sweden or Serbia. England manager Gareth Southgate says he will gauge his side's success by their World Cup performances rather than how far they go in the tournament. England recorded two goalless draws against Germany and Brazil earlier this month  Credit: Getty Images  “I think, in my mind, my gauge of success would be that we come back from the tournament with the fans proud of how we’ve played and that means we’ll have played well and won some matches. "So that’s my focus, to focus on the performances and to constantly improve on the performances.” England have eliminated via penalty shootouts in six major tournaments since the 1990 World Cup in Italy and Gareth Southgate has suggested he may make his players practice penalties in front of a crowd at Wembley to mimic the high-pressure conditions of a World Cup shootout.  "It's something that we are considering how we prepare best for penalty shoot-outs," said Southgate. "Whether that's something on the training ground, whether that's in sessions we do away from the training ground, or something we do in some sort of match scenario. "We've not finalised that yet but clearly that [match situation] is an option." World Cup betting odds World Cup holders Germany are joint-favourites to retain the trophy alongside five-time winners Brazil.  England are priced at odds of 20/1 to end 52 years of hurt and lift the World Cup trophy.  Germany 5/1  Brazil 5/1  Spain 7/1  Argentina 8/1  Belgium 12/1  England 20/1 

Croácia

Eles precisaram da repescagem para assegurar a vaga na Copa do Mundo, com uma queda de produção na reta final das eliminatórias, o que ajudou na classificação da Islândia. Mas o time croata é difícil de ser batido e pode incomodar os favoritos na Rússia.
A Croácia tem em seu meio de campo jogadores de destaque do Real Madrid e do Barcelona, com Luka Modric e Ivan Rakitic, respectivamente, além de Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic e o goleador Mario Mandzukic. Na Euro 2016, a equipe desbancou a Espanha e só foi superada pela campeã Portugal na prorrogação. (AP Photo)

Portugal

O português Cristiano Ronaldo vem de temporadas brilhantes com o Real Madrid e também não tem decepcionado no comando da seleção portuguesa, que conquistou a Euro 2016 e desta vez conseguiu a classificação direta para a Copa do Mundo, sem precisar da repescagem.
Após fracassar no Brasil, quando ficou na primeira fase, o time português evoluiu com jogadores como André Gomes (Barcelona), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) e André Silva (Milan), que podem tirar um pouco do peso da responsabilidade que Cristiano Ronaldo carregou sozinho em 2014. (AP Photo)

Islândia

Há alguns anos, ninguém imaginava a seleção islandesa disputando uma Copa do Mundo, mas eles chegaram e se classificaram de forma direta para o Mundial em um grupo que tinha Croácia, Ucrânia e Turquia, no auge de sua melhor geração.
A Islândia mostrou do que é capaz na Euro 2016, quando empatou na primeira fase com Portugal, time que depois se sagraria campeão, além de eliminar a Inglaterra nas oitavas de final e se garantir entre os oito melhores europeus. Todo o cuidado é pouco contra este pequeno, mas surpreendente país. (AP Photo/Brynjar Gunnarsson).

World Cup 2018 draw pots, seedings and how it works

All 32 teams that have qualified for the World Cup will discover their group-stage opponents later this week when the draw takes place on Friday. Each team has been placed in one of four pots ahead of the draw in Moscow, but how were the pots decided and how will the draw be made? How were the pots decided? The four World Cup pots have been filled depending on each team's Fifa world ranking as of October this year. Russia have automatically been placed in pot one as hosts and they're joined by the top-seven ranked teams in the world including Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France. World Cup 2018 | 32 teams who will make up next year's tournament The next eight top-ranked teams are in pot two, the following eight in pot three and the lowest ranked eight in pot four. 2010 world champions Spain are the top-ranked team in pot two and take their place alongside teams including England, Uruguay and Croatia.  Denmark are the highest-ranked team in pot three after demolishing the Republic of Ireland in their one-sided World Cup play-off.  England's Euro 2016 conquerors Iceland are also in pot three after beating Croatia to top spot in Group I.  Iceland qualified for the 2018 World Cup as group winners  Credit: AFP  The Nordic nation will be the only country in next year's tournament with a population of less than one million people. Serbia, whose star players include Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Dusan Tadic, are the only non-European team in pot four. Panama take their place in pot four ahead of what will be their first World Cup appearance in their history. The Central-American nation booked their place in Russia with an 88th-minute winner over Costa Rica that also denied USA a place in next year's tournament.  What are the pots? World Cup draw How will the draw work? Eight groups will be drawn in total, from A-H. Each group will contain one team from each pot. No team can be drawn alongside another team from the same pot. No teams from the same confederation, with the exception of Uefa, will be drawn in the same group.  A maximum of two European countries can be in any group. A fully-clothed Gary Lineker will present the World Cup draw  Credit: BBC Match of the Day Twitter  Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker will conduct the draw alongside Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya. "As a player, I was fortunate enough to take part in the World Cup finals on two occasions," Lineker told Fifa's official website. "It is quite special to be involved in yet another tournament, now on the stage, unveiling the results of the draw. "I have been on the other side, waiting to find out my opponents, and I know how exciting this occasion is." Guests from each one of the top-eight ranked sides will help conduct the draw, including Diego Maradona, Cafu, Laurent Blanc and Fabio Cannavaro. Who could England get? Russia 2018 World Cup Draw Simulator As a pot-two team, England could draw anyone from pot one including Brazil, Germany, Argentina and France.  If England do draw a European team from pot one then that will mean they cannot be drawn alongside any other team from Uefa, including Denmark, Iceland, Sweden or Serbia. England manager Gareth Southgate says he will gauge his side's success by their World Cup performances rather than how far they go in the tournament. England recorded two goalless draws against Germany and Brazil earlier this month  Credit: Getty Images  “I think, in my mind, my gauge of success would be that we come back from the tournament with the fans proud of how we’ve played and that means we’ll have played well and won some matches. "So that’s my focus, to focus on the performances and to constantly improve on the performances.” England have eliminated via penalty shootouts in six major tournaments since the 1990 World Cup in Italy and Gareth Southgate has suggested he may make his players practice penalties in front of a crowd at Wembley to mimic the high-pressure conditions of a World Cup shootout.  Gareth Southgate looks dejected following England's penalty-shootout defeat to Germany at Euro 96 Credit: PA  "It's something that we are considering how we prepare best for penalty shoot-outs," said Southgate. "Whether that's something on the training ground, whether that's in sessions we do away from the training ground, or something we do in some sort of match scenario. "We've not finalised that yet but clearly that [match situation] is an option." World Cup betting odds World Cup holders Germany are joint-favourites to retain the trophy alongside five-time winners Brazil.  England are priced at odds of 20/1 to end 52 years of hurt and lift the World Cup trophy.  Germany 5/1  Brazil 5/1  Spain 7/1  Argentina 8/1  Belgium 12/1  England 20/1