Socceroos’ 2018 FIFA World Cup draw revealed

Evan Morgan Grahame Columnist

By Evan Morgan Grahame, Evan Morgan Grahame is a Roar Expert

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    Australia were one of the last nations to dawdle into qualification for Russia 2018. Well, it was less a dawdle and more a beleaguered galumph, albeit one made with a strong, clenched jaw and a determined look.

    At 2am Australian time, the draw began inside the ornate walls of the Kremlin, which were capped in freezing snow.

    The Socceroos will play France, Denmark and Peru in the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with their fixtures being as follows:

    Socceroos 2018 FIFA World Cup group stage fixtures
    France vs Australia, 8pm AEST Saturday 16 June 2018, Kazan Arena.
    Denmark vs Australia, 1am AEST Friday 22 June 2018, Samara Arena.
    Australia vs Peru, 12am AEST Wednesday 27 June 2018, Fisht Olympic Stadium.

    » Full FIFA 2018 World Cup fixture

    An opening game against France is not ideal; France are an astonishingly deep and talented team, with the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba primed to illuminate the tournament.

    We have, however, been given the totally achievable task of avenging our neighbours New Zealand, who were knocked out at the final hurdle of qualifying by Peru.

    The South Americans are ranked tenth in the world, but few would honestly place them above the likes of England or Uruguay, even Croatia or Colombia.

    Denmark are a team that Australia can have reasonable ambition of competing with – outside of Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Leicester’s Kaspar Schmeichel, the Danish squad are not a collection of household names.

    All-in-all, this is a very pleasing group to be drawn into, and hopes of progression to the Round of 16 – the top two teams in the group go through – are not deluded.

    The Roos will play in Kazan, Samara and Sochi, with France first up, then Denmark, then Peru. It’s probably the reverse order than was desired, but, regardless, a huge sigh of relief was heard echoing tiredly around the country.

    A nightmare group in which the Roos were pitted – like dewey-eyed sows against the arachnids of Klendathu – against Germany, Uruguay and Denmark was entirely possible.

    Australia were the sows in the last World Cup as – admirable, plucky performances aside – three defeats were inflicted in three group stage matches, with the flight home booked at the earliest opportunity. It would be slightly deflating to be subjected to a repeat of that. 

    Looking elsewhere, there are some other tasty match-ups; clearly the Iberian derby, the opening match of Group B, will be an engrossing affair.

    Spain will be hungry to relegate memories of their group stage exit in the last World Cup to the forgotten annals of history, and the Portuguese will be keen to reassert their status as European champions.

    Belgium and England’s match will be one to watch in Group G. Largely, though, the big nations – except in Group B – are fairly well spread out; Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay will all be very confident they can win their groups, and earn favourable Round of 16 opponents. 

    This is a very different feeling from the dread that gripped the Australian football-loving public back in 2014.

    The Socceroos don’t have a manager at the moment, but as soon as one is hired, planning will begin. This time, damage control will not be the priority.

    Gosh, there it is, creeping back again, a dizzy fluttering in the stomach, a buttery lump in the throat – the World Cup is coming, and with this group, we’re looking forward to it. 

    Group A
    Russia
    Saudi Arabia
    Egypt
    Uruguay

    Group B
    Portugal
    Spain
    Morocco
    Iran

    Group C
    France
    Australia
    Peru
    Denmark

    Group D
    Argentina
    Iceland
    Croatia
    Nigeria

    Group E
    Brazil
    Switzerland
    Costa Rica
    Serbia

    Group F
    Germany
    Mexico
    Sweden
    South Korea

    Group G
    Belgium
    Panama
    Tunisia
    England

    Group H
    Poland
    Senegal
    Colombia
    Japan

    Evan Morgan Grahame
    Evan Morgan Grahame

    Evan Morgan Grahame is a Melbourne-based journalist. Gleaning what he could from his brief career as a painter, the canvas of the football pitch is now his subject of contemplation, with the beautiful game sketching new, intriguing compositions every week. He has been one of The Roar's Expert columnists since 2016. Follow him on Twitter @Evan_M_G.

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    The Crowd Says (101)

    • December 2nd 2017 @ 4:31am
      bobb said | December 2nd 2017 @ 4:31am | ! Report

      Not that it matters anymore, but I wonder what Ange thinks of the draw?

      • Roar Guru

        December 2nd 2017 @ 9:15am
        Cousin Claudio said | December 2nd 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        I would think Ange will be having mixed feelings right now and would think we have a chance to get points in this group.

        Me, all things being equal, would think we will be making up the numbers again.

        But this is a World Cup, we can dream . . . what if Italy didn’t get that penalty in 2006 . . .

        • December 2nd 2017 @ 11:49am
          Let The One King Rule said | December 2nd 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          It would have gone to penalties and they’d still have won. We lacked any real opportunities all game and would not have scored with another half hour.

          • December 2nd 2017 @ 3:53pm
            Kangajets said | December 2nd 2017 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

            U talk rubbish . Chippers hit the crossbar.

            • December 2nd 2017 @ 5:31pm
              chris said | December 2nd 2017 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

              Not really. That was the only chance we had against a 10 man Italy

    • December 2nd 2017 @ 5:16am
      Ad-0 said | December 2nd 2017 @ 5:16am | ! Report

      Well, well. I must say I’m not that upset. No easy games, but I feel we have a chance in each one.
      France should have way too much quality but you never know with them. They could blow us away, or they could go on strike and refuse to leave the team bus. Often slow starter’s, I feel we can get something if we frustrate them.
      I’m actually more worried about Denmark who are on fire right now, but its not impossible for us to have 2 points (or more) going into the last game if we stay organised. Only problem is we’ve leaked goals thru qualifying so we’d have to improve there.

    • Roar Guru

      December 2nd 2017 @ 5:59am
      Rick Disnick said | December 2nd 2017 @ 5:59am | ! Report

      Disappointed we didn’t land in a group with a really tough opponent.

      Frogs should be no problem drawing against. We may even slot a few past them before they warm up.
      Danes haven’t been a threat since the 11th century.
      As for the Peruvians: we’ll show our antipodean brethren how it’s done.

      Fully expect us to cruise into the quarters after smashing Croatia in the round of 16.

      It’s our World Cup to lose. I don’t want to look too far ahead though.

      • December 2nd 2017 @ 6:18am
        Gurudoright said | December 2nd 2017 @ 6:18am | ! Report

        Not looking past the quarter finals? You are way to pessimistic Rick 😂

        • Roar Guru

          December 2nd 2017 @ 6:26am
          Rick Disnick said | December 2nd 2017 @ 6:26am | ! Report

          Not at all.

          Australia are the only certainty to make the quarters. I wouldn’t want to speculate on our opponent past this.

          • December 2nd 2017 @ 7:25am
            Kangajets said | December 2nd 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

            Rick

            I’m pretty confident the Roos will meet Tunisia in the final , especially if our new coach Graeme Arnold just picks the whole Sydney FC team .
            Just can’t see Germany and Brazil getting that far .

            • Roar Guru

              December 2nd 2017 @ 9:52am
              mds1970 said | December 2nd 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

              No chance. We will lose the final to North Korea 15-0. Kim Jong Un will be playing coach and will score 10 of them.
              The TV news story is being recorded in Pyongyang already ready to show on World Cup final night.

              • Roar Guru

                December 2nd 2017 @ 10:04am
                AdelaideDocker said | December 2nd 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

                Ha!

                The scary thing is, you’re probably right in the whole “it’s already being recorded” thing.

            • Roar Guru

              December 2nd 2017 @ 10:24am
              Rick Disnick said | December 2nd 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

              Kanga, you could be onto something there.

              The only threat to a core Sydney FC team would be if the Roos run into Liverpool Geriatric FC in the knockout stages. I don’t think they qualified though.

              It’s in Brazil’s best interest to not make it out of their group. No one wants to see them humiliated again. It could be 10-0 if they play Germany in Russia. It’ll be another decade before the scars have healed.

              That really just leaves Germany, but like you said, Tunisia will most likely knock them out for us.

              We’ll probably go on to f$^kup in the final against them.

          • Roar Guru

            December 2nd 2017 @ 10:25am
            AdelaideDocker said | December 2nd 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

            Can’t tell if extraordinarily optimistic or just joking around.

            I’m hoping for the former, but assuming the latter.

            • Roar Guru

              December 2nd 2017 @ 10:45am
              Rick Disnick said | December 2nd 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

              I’m extraordinarily optimistic.

              Hope is a powerful thing.

    • December 2nd 2017 @ 7:05am
      Waz said | December 2nd 2017 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      That’s a decent draw. No group of death which is a real bonus (imagine landing in the Spain/Portugal Group lol). Denmark and France will be making travel plans for the next round already though.

      There’s no easy games but as Ad-0 says, no impossible games, so a good coach with a fit squad should be targeting getting out of the group although I think this will be a Group with a lot of draws in it so goal difference comes in to play – we certainly need to fix our goals scoring problems before June.

      Most likely go through in second and presumably playing the winners of Group D (Iceland)

      • December 2nd 2017 @ 7:37am
        pete4 said | December 2nd 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

        I know rankings aren’t supposed to mean much but:

        France (world no.9)
        Peru (world no.11)
        Denmark (world no.12)
        Us (world no.39)

        It’s a solid group

        • December 2nd 2017 @ 9:05am
          Waz said | December 2nd 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

          It is. And to be fair it’s becoming harder each tournament to find an easy group although I recon the French and Danish media will be looking up their potentisl venues for their R16 ties this morning lol

          • December 2nd 2017 @ 9:20am
            pete4 said | December 2nd 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

            It’s better than our Brazil 2014 group stage – Chile, Holland, Spain was tougher

        • Roar Guru

          December 2nd 2017 @ 10:48am
          Rick Disnick said | December 2nd 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

          How is Denmark 12? That would have seen them in Pot 2.

          Just shows how useless the rankings are.

          • December 2nd 2017 @ 10:53am
            Waz said | December 2nd 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

            Yup. Useless. Unless you’re an AFL fan wanting to rub our noses in it if course.

            Poland in Pot 1 but Spain in pot 2.

            Australia ranked higher than Saudi Arabia and Japan, the two teams who finished higher than we did in our group.

            FIFA need to fix this friendly fixture thing – if you don’t play when you should you lose ranking points.

            • Roar Guru

              December 2nd 2017 @ 11:10am
              Rick Disnick said | December 2nd 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

              Not sure how AFL managed to make it into the conversation again, but more power to them I guess.

            • December 2nd 2017 @ 11:34am
              pete4 said | December 2nd 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

              Japan and Saudi Arabia would be happy with their groups I’d say (especially Japan)

              • December 2nd 2017 @ 2:58pm
                AGO74 said | December 2nd 2017 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

                It’s a pity for afc that one of the other Asian qualifiers didn’t get Saudis group. Even with Saudis easy group I see them struggling to get a draw as they are incapable of playing outside Arabian peninsula.

          • December 2nd 2017 @ 11:28am
            marron said | December 2nd 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

            The rankings used for the draw were the ones from a couple of months ago. Denmark have moved up since then.

            • December 2nd 2017 @ 11:52am
              pete4 said | December 2nd 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

              On FIFA saying Poles and Swiss are in top 10:

              Poland (world no.7)
              Switzerland (world no.8)

              I’d fancy our chances against either of them

            • Roar Guru

              December 3rd 2017 @ 11:01pm
              Chris Kettlewell said | December 3rd 2017 @ 11:01pm | ! Report

              Both Denmark and Peru would have moved up the rankings after the pots were locked in for the same reason Australia did: Failing to get direct entry and having to go to a playoff. It meant they were among the handful of teams playing extra competitive matches during the international breaks where teams that had already qualified were probably playing friendlies. Because of the hopeless ranking calculation that means friendlies automatically drop your ranking even if you win, teams playing competitive matches (ie playoffs having not received direct entry) got a ranking boost at that point.

              So Denmark and Peru moving up the rankings after the pots were committed to the draw doesn’t reflect them being better as much as just that they got to play extra competitive matches.

    • December 2nd 2017 @ 7:07am
      Worlds Biggest said | December 2nd 2017 @ 7:07am | ! Report

      First reaction is we might actually be able to get out of the group, it’s not easy that’s for sure. France are obviously one of the favourites, the Danes are always tough to break down whilst Peru will bouyed by there first World Cup in over 30 years.

      • Roar Guru

        December 3rd 2017 @ 11:03pm
        Chris Kettlewell said | December 3rd 2017 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

        There’s no such thing as an easy group, but have to say the use of rankings for pots the way they have done seems to have worked, as there really isn’t a group of death or a really easy group among them. They seem relatively well balanced groups in general.

    • December 2nd 2017 @ 7:47am
      jamesb said | December 2nd 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Good luck Iran.

      It was peculiar when pot 3 came out and Iran drew with Portugal and Spain. With Iran in the same confederation, Australia avoided Portugal and Spain before pot 4 came out.

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