2018 World Cup draw: All you need to know and how to watch it live in the UAE
The 32-team tournament in Russia takes place next summer and it's time to find out the group stages.
All the information you need ahead of Friday's draw for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.
What is it?
The draw for the 2018 Fifa World Cup where 32 teams will compete in Russia from June 15 to July 15 next year. The draw in Moscow will determine the eight groups for the tournament.
When and where is it?
The draw will take place at the State Kremlin Palace in the Russian capital. Coverage will start at 6pm local time, or 7pm in the UAE.
Where to watch it?
For viewers in the UAE and Mena region, you can watch the draw unfold live on beIN Sports. For English-language viewers, tune in to beIN Sports HD11. For Arabic viewers it's on HD1 and for French-language viewers on HD14.
Who's running the show?
Former England striker and TV presenter Gary Lineker will host the event and will be supported by Russian presenter Maria Komandnaya. There will be eight prominent football figures helping with the draw. World Cup winners Diego Maradona, Carles Puyol, Laurent Blanc, Gordon Banks, Cafu and Fabio Cannavaro will be joined by Diego Forlan - the former Golden Boot winner - and Russian football great Nikita Simonyan.
How does the draw work?
All 32 teams are separated into four pots of eight teams based on their seedings, aside from Russia who as hosts are automatically placed in Pot 1. The draw starts with all eight teams in Pot 1 - the highest seeded teams - drawn first and placed into groups A-H. Russia are automatically placed in Group A. The draw then moves on to Pots 2, 3 and 4, keeping apart national teams from the same confederation with the exception of Europe who can have a maximum of two nations in the same group.
Who's in which Pot?
Pot 1: Russia (hosts), Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
Pot 2: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
Pot 3: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
Pot 4: Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia
What are the best case scenarios for the Arab teams?
The Mena region is well represented at the 2018 World Cup, with Saudi Arabia claiming one of the Asian places and Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco earning three of the five African berths. For Tunisia and Egypt - both in Pot 3 - the kindest draw, on paper at least, would be Russia, Peru, and Panama. For Morocco in Pot 4 it would be Russia, Mexico, and Iran. For Saudi Arabia, also in Pot 4, it would be Russia, Mexico and Senegal.
And the worst case scenarios?
As it's the World Cup, only the very best teams are present, so only the very fortunate are drawn in what might be viewed as an easy group. For most, though, the groups are packed with elite teams. For Tunisia and Egypt, the toughest group would likely be Germany, Spain, and Japan. For Morocco and Saudi Arabia, a daunting group would contain Germany, Spain, and Costa Rica. That's not to mention the likes of Brazil, Argentina, France, Belgium, and Uruguay all lurking as potential opponents!
Anything else to know?
There are plenty of subplots dominating the build-up to Friday's draw. The National's football correspondent Ian Hawkey has a breakdown of all the big talking points.
Updated: December 1, 2017 03:06 PM