Russia World Cup 2018: No group of death | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 02, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:52 AM, December 03, 2017

No group of death

The usual search for a "Group of Death" that adds spice to the buildup towards the FIFA World Cup looks to be a fruitless one after Friday's draw in Moscow as, partly down to the new rankings-based format, none of the favourites face more than one tough-looking rival.

Defending champions Germany rarely struggle in the group phase, but they will have to concentrate for their tricky trio of games.

"From a sports perspective this is a very interesting group of opponents," said coach Joachim Loew. "What we want to do in the group stage is set a foundation for the successful title defence."

"We know Mexico from this year's Confederations Cup, Sweden we know from Europe. South Korea is a bit more unknown for us but I look forward to this group. At such a draw everything is possible. Whatever the group, we have to advance. I was generally relaxed. There is no reason for us to be nervous."

On paper England look favourites from Group G. They have not lost to Belgium in their last 11 games – their only defeat in their 23 meetings came in 1936.

Manager Gareth Southgate, however, was not taking anything for granted. "We've had a habit of writing teams off then losing to them," he said.

Croatia, debutants Iceland, and Nigeria will all fancy their chances of joining favourites Argentina in the knockout phase from Group D. It is the fifth time Nigeria have been grouped with Argentina in their six World Cups.

Group E has a similar look with Brazil hot favourites but little to choose between Switzerland and Costa Rica, who both qualified via the playoffs, and Serbia.

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