Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018 WC: Iran to face Spain, Portugal; tough draw for Germany

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

A fairly balanced draw left the 6,000 dignitaries assembled at the State Kremlin Arena in Moscow with no standout "group of death" to mull over, although some intriguing matchups do lie ahead once the tournament kicks off next summer. "They are the current European champions and have a group of players of the highest level", said the Spain coach.

Morocco and Iran join the Iberian duo in Group B, while in Group C Didier Deschamps' France side - one of the pre-tournament favourites - received a fairly comfortable draw, being pitted against Peru, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland's conquerors Denmark.

Morocco begin their 2018 World Cup campaign against Iran on June 15 at the Ekaterinburg Stadium.

Neymar's Brazil must negotiate a group including Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia as the South Americans seek a sixth title.

"Without a doubt, we have a hard and difficult group", Lopetegui said. Performance against defending World Champions, and bookies favourites, Germany could well determine who qualifies, as it did for the Boys in Green in 2002.

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Just over a year after being dumped out of Euro 2016 by the Azzurri, Spain thrashed Italy 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in September in a style reminiscent of the "tiki-taka" short-passing game that bamboozled opponents and won fans across the world between 2008 and 2012.

Renard added that his team is going to play its matches in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Hong Kong - Carlos Queiroz has challenged Iran's football authorities to sack him as head coach of the country's national team if they do not appreciate his public criticism of their preparations for the 2018 World up in Russian Federation. "Spain is naturally favorite, as I've always said", Santos said. "I believe that the best thing a coach has to do is optimise and make the most of the virtues of his players", Lopetegui told Barcelona-based sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo on Wednesday.

Also in the group are Uruguay and Egypt. "It's going to be a hard tournament", Santos added.

A side that looks like it benefited from an easy group is England, one of only eight countries to have won the World Cup but which bagged its lone title in 1966. "They are the champions of Europe and they have fantastic players", Lopetegui told Spanish TV station Cuatro.

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