Friday 1st December 2017

Event of the day

Our event of the day 
is the draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow conducted by Gary Lineker, former England forward and Golden Boot winner at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya. After a series of dramatic qualifiers and play-off matches around the world, the 32 national teams fighting for the most prestigious football title, are known. Based on their FIFA rankings, the sides are allocated to four pots, each containing eight teams, in descending order. Hosts Russia occupy the top seeding spot and will be drawn to the top position in Group A, while the remaining seven highest-ranked nations will be drawn to top spots in Groups B to H. No teams from the same confederation can be drawn in the same group, with the exception of the 14 team members of UEFA. 
Title holders Germany booked their place in Russia comfortably, by winning all 10 of their qualifying games and are unbeaten in all World Cup games and qualifiers since the 2010 semi-final defeat against Spain. The Germans are the favourites to defend the trophy – they would be the first to do so since Brazil’s achievement in 1962. After the humiliating home defeat to the Germans in 2014, Brazil impressed in the extremely difficult South American qualifying group and are again a name to watch for. Unbeaten in European qualifiers, England, Spain and Belgium join the title candidates along with European Championship winners Portugal and runners-up France and two-times World Cup winners Argentina. The qualifiers brought some unexpected results as always – big names such as four-time champions Italy and the Netherlands miss out on the competition, as well as the United States, Chile, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana. Panama and Iceland will make their World Cup debuts. It all starts with this exciting draw.
Honourable mentions 
around the globe go to the opening day of the Test series between New Zealand and West Indies at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. This is the first of two Tests between the sides; the other will start next Saturday in Hamilton. In golf, it’s Day 2 of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at the Heritage Golf Club in Mauritius, the Australian PGA Championship at the RACV Royal Pines Resort in Benowa, and the Hero World Challenge in Albany in the Bahamas. It’s day 2 of the Women’s World Rugby Sevens Series at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai. At the same venue, it’s the first day of the men’s tournament of the World Rugby Sevens Series. In the Aviva Premiership Rugby, the Northampton Saints play the Newcastle Falcons at Franklin’s Gardens; while the Worcester Warriors take on the Sale Sharks at the Sixways.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by FIFA World Cup

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