Germany and Spain will clash at this year’s World Cup after Friday’s draw in Doha placed the two former winners in the same group, while geopolitical rivals the United States and Iran were also drawn together.
Four-time World Cup winners Germany were in Pot Two, making them the obvious team to avoid for the top seeds in the draw in the Qatari capital. They were knocked out of the 2018 tournament in Russia in the group stage.
Germany and Spain are joined by Japan in Group E, which will be completed by the winner of an intercontinental playoff in June between Costa Rica and New Zealand.
Iran and the United States last met at the 1998 World Cup in France when the Iranians won the politically-charged game 2-1 in Lyon..
England also found themselves in Group B and will face Iran in their opening game on the tournament’s first day, on 21 November.
Gareth Southgate’s side, semifinalists four years ago in Russia and runners-up at Euro 2020, might also come up against neighbours Wales or Scotland, although Ukraine could also take the last spot in the European playoffs, to be decided in June.
Hosts Qatar, who will be appearing at their first World Cup, will face Ecuador in the World Cup’s opening game at the 60 000-seat Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor, 35 kilometres north-east of Doha.
Qatar will also take on African champions Senegal as well as the Netherlands, who return to the World Cup after missing out in 2018, in Group A.
Reigning champions France will likely be pleased at finding themselves alongside familiar foes Denmark as well as Tunisia in Group D, which will be completed by the winners of the other intercontinental playoff, Australia, Peru or the United Arab Emirates.
Record five-time winners Brazil will play Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G, while two-time champions Argentina drew Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Robert Lewandowski’s Poland in Group C.
It might be Lionel Messi’s last chance to win a World Cup as he will turn 35 before the tournament.
The same goes for Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be nearly 38 when Portugal come up against Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.
United Arab Emirates/Australia/Peru
Costa Rica/New Zealand