Germany with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in Group F

The draw has been held for the 2018 World Cup, which kicks off in Russia next summer. Germany will open the defense of their 2014 World Cup title against Mexico, before facing Sweden and South Korea in Group F.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup draw in Moscow on Friday determined that Germany will be up against Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in Group F.

The reigning World Cup champions will begin the defense of their title against Mexico in the Russian capital on June 17 before traveling to Sochi to face Sweden on June 23. Their final group stage game will take place against South Korea in Kazan on June 27.

On paper, Group F looks like one of the toughest groups, but it is a group Germany will likely have to win if they are to avoid Brazil in the last 16. The Brazilians are clear favorites to top Group E ahead of Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.

"All the other countries have been watching us closely as champions, including at the Confederations Cup," said Germany coach Joachim Löw, who attended the draw. "But I think other nations have caught up somewhat and have some great players. It will be an exciting World Cup here in Russia and we're all looking forward to getting started."

Russia hopeful, France confident

As always, the hosts, Russia, were first out of the hat and were joined in Group A by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. After a disappointing performance at the Confederations Cup last summer, coach Stanislav Cherchesov will be confident of progressing to the last 16 when it really matters. They will kick off the tournament against the Saudis on June 14.

Among the other tournament favorites, Spain and Portugal were drawn together in Group B which, along with Morocco and Iran, has a distinctly Mediterranean flavor. France, who knocked Germany out of Euro 2016 at the semifinal stage, have a favorable draw on paper; Didier Deschamps' hugely talented team face Australia, Peru and Denmark.

World Cup debutants Panama, who shocked the United States in the qualifying rounds, landed in Group G along with Belgium, England and Tunisia, while Iceland, the smallest nation in the competition, face tough opponents in Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D.

Infografik WM-Auslosung 2018 ENG

Relive the draw and reaction as it happened on the DW live blog:

16:43 The Mexican FA said they were afraid of nobody in their group, not even Germany.


16:40 The Swedish newspaper Expressen has expressed horror at its national team's draw: "There were three or four teams that we really didn't want, and one of them was Germany!"

16:38 Manuel Neuer added that "Mexico tends to play very aggressive football, while we know how to approach Sweden. They knocked out Italy, so we certainly won't take them lightly. South Korea is also a strong team. It is an interesting group with opponents from three continents.

16:35 Germany captain Manuel Neuer: "We have been drawn against opponents who are not unknown to us... They are all opponents that we will have to take seriously, but our clear goal must be to finish top of the group."

16:18 Germany could wind up facing Brazil in the round of 16. The World Cup opens on June 14 and the final is on July 15 in Moscow.

16:15 Germany's first match is to be against Mexico in Moscow on June 17. The Germans then face Sweden in Sochi on June 23, before wrapping up the group stage against South Korea in Kazan on June 27.

16:12 The German football association (DFB) president, Reinhard Grindel: "It's a very interesting group for our team. The preparation for the first three opponents at the World Cup begins now for Joachim Löw and his team.

16:08 Germany head coach Joachim Löw has given his reaction to the draw. He said Group F included "very interesting opponents." He also said Germany intended to use the group-stage matches to lay the foundation for a successful defense of their World Cup title. "This is our goal."

16:00 The draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia has been completed! 

15:58 Group H is completed by Japan: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan.

15:55 South Korea are drawn in Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea.

15:55 Panama are placed in Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England.

15:54 Nigeria enter Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria.

15:53 Australia are drawn in Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark.

15:52 Morocco are in Group B: Portugal, Span, Morocco, Iran.

15:51 Serbia enter Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia.

15:51 Saudi Arabia complete Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay.

15:50 Senegal go into second spot in Group H.

15:49 The third team in Group G is Tunisia. They will face England in their opening match.

15:48 Sweden are Germany's next opponents, they are drawn into position three in Group F. 

15:48 Costa Rica are drawn into third place in Group E with Brazil and Switzerland.

15:47 Iceland will make their debut at the World Cup from the second position in Group D. That means they'll open their tournament against Argentina.

15:46 Iran are placed in Group B ... in the fourth position.

15:45 Denmark have been drawn. They can't go into Group B, because there are already two European teams. They are placed in fourth spot in Group C. 

15:44 Egypt enter Group A. They slide into the third spot. 

15:44 Colombia are in third position in Group H with Poland.

15:43 England are drawn in to the final position in Belgium's Group G.

15:42 Germany draw Mexico in their Group F. They slide into second spot, meaning Germany's opening match will be against Mexico.

15:41 Switzerland go into the second position in Group E.

15:40 The Croatians, who needed the playoffs to qualify, are in third position in Group D, Argentina's group.

15:40 Peru are drawn in at the third position in Group C with France.

15:39 Spain join their neighbors, Portugal in Group 2.

15:38 Now we're on to Pot 2, with Maradona doing the honors. He pulls out Uruguay first. They go to the bottom spot in Group A with Russia.

15:37 Belgium are the first team drawn in Group G, and Poland top Group H. 

15:36 Germany are drawn in Group F!

15:35 Brazil are drawn as the first team in Group E.

15:34 Argentina top Group D. 

15:34 Group C are top of Group C.

15:33 Portugal are top of Group B.

15:32 Gordon Banks draws Russia's ballot, they are top of Group A. Kind of fitting as the hosts!

15:32 Simonyan draws the first team and it is Russia!

15:29 The main presenters are there (which is a good sign); former England star Gary Lineker and the Russian television presenter, Maria Komandnaya.

15:26 Banks is followed by the Russian representative, Nikita Simonyan, and several other former stars, including Argentina's Diego Maradona.

15:25 Many former World Cup stars are in attendance for the draw and some of them are now being introduced, starting with England's legendary goalkeeper Gordon Banks...

15:16 Now we're starting to get down to business though, as former Germany striker Miroslav Klose brings in the World Cup trophy, which of course, was won by the national team in Brazil in 2014. Klose, of course, is the top scorer of all time at the World Cup, with a total of 16 goals between 2002 and 2014. 

15:14 As is always the case at such affairs, the evening begins with the show business side of things. 

15:12 There's been a bit of light snow in Moscow as the guests arrived to watch the draw. Among them are Germany coach Joachim Löw and national team manager Oliver Bierhoff.

15:01 We are just minutes away from the start of the draw for the World Cup in Russia next summer.  The defending champions, Germany, are in Pot 1, along with most of the other favorites. 

The draw for the group stage of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is to start at 6 p.m. Moscow time (15:00 GMT) in the concert hall of the State Kremlin Palace in the Russian capital. This is when national team coach Joachim Löw will find out in which of the eight groups Germany will play next summer - and who the competition will be. That's not to mention the other 31 head coaches and their teams...

With less than an hour to go until the draw starts you can read up on which countries are in which "pots" and some of the possible group scenarios Germany might face here.  

Related Subjects

Russia's first World Cup comes as Moscow continues to struggle with doping and the IOC, which potentially even threatens its place at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Earlier on Friday, Russia 2018 organizing committee boss Vitaly Mutko rejected separate allegations about the national football team and hosts.

For all of Russia's sporting success, football was never really the country's forte. Will the tournament finally impact on that? Emily Sherwin filed this report from Moscow for DW.  

Where will the games be played? Are the grounds ready? Below, we've got a look at the venues for you.

Sports

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

The main stadium, which is home to the Russian national team, has a capacity of 81,000. It will be the venue for both the opening match and the World Cup final, as well as one of the semifinals. The stadium, which has been renovated for the World Cup, has previously hosted a Champions League final and the Summer Olympic Games.

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Saint Petersburg Stadium

The new home of Zenit St. Petersburg holds 68,000 spectators. It is the venue for one of the semifinals and the third-place match. It will also host a game in the last 16 as well as group stage matches, including one of Russia's clashes. Saint Petersburg Stadium was also a venue for the 2017 Confederations Cup.

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Yekaterinburg Arena

The Yekateringburg Arena, which was built in 1953 has been refurbished for the 2018 World Cup. The stadium, with a capacity of 35,000, is the home of FC Ural of the Russian first division. Yekaterinburg is the furthest east of the host cities.

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Rostov Arena

Rostov Arena, with a capacity of 45,000 is one of the new stadiums built specifically for the World Cup. The stadium will host four group-stage games and one match in the last 16. It will become the new home of FC Rostov after next summer's tournament.

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Volgograd Arena

This venue was built on the site of the old Central Stadium in Volgograd near the Volga river. It can hold over 45,000 spectators and will only be used for the group stage. After the World Cup, it will become the home of Rotor Volgograd, a club currently playing in Russia's second division. Volgograd used to be known as Stalingrad.

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Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

This 45,000 capacity stadium was built specifically for the World Cup. It will host four group-stage games as well as a round-of-16 match and a quarterfinal. After the tournament, it is expected to become the home ground of Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod of the Russian second division, although in March 2017, then-regional governor Valery Shantsev said it would also be used for other sporting events.

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Kaliningrad Stadium

This is the only World Cup venue in an exclave of Russia — Kaliningrad is a territory between Poland and Lithuania. The 35,000-capacity stadium was built specifically for the World Cup and will be downsized after the tournament. It is only a venue for the group stage and will become the new home of Baltika Kaliningrad, a club in Russia's second division.

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Mordovia Arena, Saransk

German architect Tim Hupe designed this brand new bowl stadium for the World Cup. The stadium has a capacity of 44,000 and will only host matches in the group stage. After the tournament, the upper seating will be dismantled and the stadium will be handed over to third-tier Russian side Mordovia Saransk.

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Samara Arena

This 44,000 capacity stadium was built for the World Cup on an island south of Samara where no settlements or infrastructure previously existed. This is where hosts Russia will play their final group-stage match. A last-16 match and a quarterfinal will also be played in the stadium, which is to become the home of Krylya Sovetov, currently in the Russian second division, after the tournament.

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Spartak Stadium, Moscow

Though it was used for the Confederations Cup, the Spartak Stadium, with a capacity of 45,000, will only be used for four group-stage games and one first knockout-stage game. The arena was re-opened in 2014 and is the home of Spartak Moscow, Russia's most successful football club.

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Kazan Arena

A venue for the Confederations Cup, Kazan Arena will be used for a last 16 game, a quarterfinal and four group stage games. The capacity of the stadium is 41,585. Vladimir Putin laid the cornerstone for the stadium before it opened in 2013. It is the home ground of Rubin Kazan.

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Fisht Stadium, Sochi

This 41,220-capacity stadium was constructed for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. A large section of the roof has been removed to accommodate football. A last 16 match and a quarterfinal will be played here as well as four group games.