World Cup 2018: What you need to know about Friday’s draw

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Among others in the elite tier are defending champions Germany, record five-time winners Brazil, European champions Portugal and 2014 World Cup runners-up Argentina.
Credit: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo won’t need to do much scouting ahead of Portugal’s opener at next year’s football World Cup in Russia as the reigning European champions landed in the same group as Spain.

Friday’s World Cup draw at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow just happened to fall on a national holiday in Portugal — Dec. 1 marks when the Portuguese celebrate the restoration of independence from Spain in 1640.

Ronaldo of course plays his club football for Real Madrid, so is bound to face several of his teammates on June 15, including central defender and Spain captain Sergio Ramos.

However, Portugal, who won Euro 2016, and 2010 World Cup titlist Spain will be fully expected to advance from Group B, which also includes two teams specializing in clean sheets: Morocco and Iran.

Morocco didn’t concede in World Cup qualifying while Iran set a record for keeping 12 consecutive clean sheets in the qualifying — under its Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz, formerly manager at Real Madrid.

‘Major sporting festival’
Elsewhere debutantes Iceland were given a fairy-tale opener against Lionel Messi’s Argentina in Group D, with defending champion Germany landing in a relatively tough group, paired with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in Group F.

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