11 a.m.: The World Cup 2018 groups are set. Here’s how they look.
Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco
Group C: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia
Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama
Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan
The field is set, and we now know what games are being played and when they will take place.
That’s all for now, and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion coming up on NESN.com/soccer.
10:50 a.m.: Pot 3 is clear. Here’s how the groups look.
Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Iran
Group C: France, Peru, Denmark
Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden
Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia
Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal
10:45 a.m.: FIFA has cleared pot 2. Here’s how the groups are shaping up.
Group A: Russia, Uruguay
Group B: Portugal, Spain
Group C: France, Peru
Group D: Argentina, Croatia
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland
Group F: Germany, Mexico
Group G: Belgium, England
Group H: Poland, Colombia
10:35. a.m.: FIFA has drawn all the teams from pot 1. Here’s how things stand so far.
Group A: Russia
Group B: Portugal
Group C: France
Group D: Argentina
Group E: Brazil
Group F: Germany
Group G: Belgium
Group H: Poland
10:30 a.m.: Gary Lineker and Maria Komandnaya are on stage, and the draw will soon begin in earnest.
And that means we’re starting up our live draw watch party now.
10:15 a.m.: Germany legend Miroslav Klose, a 2014 World Cup winner, brings out the trophy everyone wants but just 32 teams have a shot at claiming in 2018.
“It (the trophy) has a magical impression,” Klose said. “So many great footballers have held this trophy in their hands. So it’s a magical moment for me to hold it.”
10:08 a.m.: FIFA president Gianni Infantino follows Vladimir Putin with some remarks of his own.
“Thank you to all the Russian people who have worked hard over the last seven years to bring us one step further to the final tournament,” Infantino says, per FIFA.com. “Thanks to all 11 host cities who are doing a tremendous job.
“The scene belongs to the football legends. Now that we have set the scene, we can let the artists celebrate football over the world. Enjoy the draw and enjoy the kick-off and enjoy football next summer here in Russia.”
10 a.m.: Vladimir Putin makes the opening remarks.
“Russia has a passion for football and have had many outstanding players over many generations,” Putin says.
“We know how to host our friends, as anyone who has visited Russia knows as a fact,” he adds.
10 a.m.: The World Cup 2018 draw is underway.
Expect plenty of pomp and circumstance before the serious business begins. Organizers also probably will include some musical acts.
It’s cool, though. We’ve waited three-plus years since the end of the last World Cup, so what’s another half hour or so?
9:30 a.m. ET: Soccer fans, it’s time to break out those calendars and pens.
The draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place Friday at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow. FIFA will sort the 32 qualified teams into eight groups of four, launching the unofficial sprint to the tournament, which will take place next summer in Russia. After two-plus years of World Cup qualifying, teams finally can start plotting their respective roads to glory once they find out the dates, venues and opponents in their group-stage games.
Germany enters the tournament as defending champion, and the other nations will try to unseat the four-time champion from its throne. Brazil, Argentina, Spain, France and Belgium are among the other favorites.
Former England striker Gary Lineker and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya will host the 2018 World Cup draw. Soccer luminaries Pele, Diego Maradona and others also will assist with the draw, and Russia president Vladimir Putin is expected to attend.
The World Cup draw ceremony is expected to begin at 10 a.m. ET and last about an hour.