World Cup group stage draw: When is it? How does it work? Who can get who?

With the 32 teams to take part in Russia now confirmed, the draw is just around the corner

The World Cup finals are still just less than eight months away but the build-up starts now, with the group stage draw up first. Here are all of the details you need to know.

When is the draw?

The draw for the group stages of the 2018 World Cup will take place on Friday, December 1st in the Kremlin in Moscow. The time of the draw is 3pm Irish time.

How can I watch it?

The draw will be shown live on Sky Sports News, RTÉ and However, if you’re in work and unable to watch you can always follow our liveblog at

How does it work?

There will be four pots, each containing eight teams with eight groups to be drawn. Which teams are in which pot is determined by the Fifa rankings which were released on October 16th. The only team whose pot is not dictated by the rankings is the host country, Russia. They are treated as a seeded team and placed in pot one along with the seven other highest-ranked teams to qualify. Each team will be drawn from pot one first and placed in a group before teams are drawn from pot two, pot three and pot four. No teams from the same confederation, with the exception of Uefa – which could have up to two teams in the same group – will be drawn into the same group.


What countries are in each pot?

Pot 1: Russia (hosts, Group A), Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France.

Pot 2: Spain, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia, Peru.

Pot 3: Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran, Denmark.

Pot 4: Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Serbia.

When do the finals start?

The opening game will see hosts Russia take on one of their group stage opponents at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow – the ground where Manchester United beat Chelsea to win the Champions League in 2008 – on June 14th, 2018. The tournament will then run for 32 days with the final taking place at the same ground on July 15th.

Ruaidhrí Croke

Ruaidhrí Croke

Ruaidhrí Croke is a sports journalist with The Irish Times