Defending champions Germany in 'interesting' group

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-12-02 09:58

The Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia was held in the concert hall at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Friday, with defending champions Germany looking at a quite easy group.

"It's a very interesting group. Our aim is to lay the foundations for our @FIFAWorldCup title defense," the trophy-holding German team said on Twitter quoting its coach Joachim Loew.

Germany were drawn with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in Group F, with top two teams of each group advancing into the last 16.

European champions Portugal are facing a tough match-up with Spain in Group B, but with Morocco and Iran as the preliminary-round opponents, berths for them to the next round are much easier than other powerhouses.

Hosts Russia will play Saudi Arabia in the opening game on June 14, with Egypt and Uruguay in Group A, and France are heralding Group C with Australia, Denmark and Peru.

Five-time champions Brazil will face challenge from Serbia, Switzerland and Costa Rica, and first-time Iceland are bracketed with Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D, which might be the toughest group.

32 teams will play a total of 64 games at 12 venues in 11 Russian cities when the tournament is held from June 14-July 15.

Former England striker Gary Lineker conducted the final draw together with Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya. They were assisted by eight football greats, including Argentina's Diego Maradona.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at that ceremony the 2018 tournament will inject powerful impetus into the development of football in Russia and the whole world.

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