World Cup 2018: Germany start against Mexico as Russia face Saudi Arabia in big kick-off
Germany will begin their World Cup defence against Mexico after Friday's draw in Moscow threw together Spain and Portugal in the pick of the group-stage matches at Russia 2018.
Joachim Low's men triumphed on Russian soil in the Confederations Cup earlier this year and start at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on June 17 versus a side they ran out 4-1 winners over in the semi-finals of that tournament.
Mexico's tough assignment comes three days on from the hosts kicking off proceedings in a seemingly favourable opener against Saudi Arabia.
Sweden, who ensured Italy would miss the finals for the first time since 1958, and South Korea join Germany and Mexico in Group F.
Spain and Portugal will play out an Iberian derby in Sochi, a fittingly temperate setting on the Black Sea coast, and the winner will be a heavy favourite to top Group B. Iran and Morocco make up the section.
Russia performed poorly at both Euro 2016 and the Confederations Cup but might fancy their chances of pipping the Saudis and Egypt in Group A, where Uruguay will start as favourites.
Five-time champions Brazil being against Switzerland in Rostov and further pairings with Costa Rica and Serbia mean head coach Tite can be pleased with the draw overall.
Here they are! The groups for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia!
— #WorldCupDraw (@FIFAWorldCup) December 1, 2017
Great rivals Argentina have a more complicated task alongside Euro 2016 surprise package and tournament debutants Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D. It is the fifth time in Nigeria's six World Cup appearances that they have drawn two-time champions Argentina.
An array of Premier League stars will be in action on the final matchday in Group G, when England take on Belgium – featuring Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and company – in Kaliningrad.
Tunisia and debutants Panama's presence means that match will be expected to double up as a winner-takes-all showdown for top spot.
Peru and Denmark's reward for coming through play-off clashes last month are places in Group C alongside France – benefitting from a stellar generation headed by Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe – and Australia.
Poland are the top seeds in Group H, where Colombia represent tough matchday two opposition. Those nations begin against Senegal and Japan respectively.