Unveiling the Unforgettable 2018 World Cup Groups Stage Battles

In this article, we shall have a close look at the 2018 world cup groups. The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia marked the tournament’s 21st edition, the first held in Eastern Europe. Spanning from June 14 to July 15, it stood as the most expensive World Cup until the 2022 edition in Qatar, costing over $14.2 billion. Featuring 32 teams, it introduced debuts for Iceland and Panama, while notable exits included Germany in the group stage and the host nation, Russia, in the quarter-finals.

Following this, the final clash at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium saw France secure their second World Cup by triumphing over Croatia 4-2, continuing European teams’ dominance with a fourth consecutive title. Furthermore, with over 3 million spectators, the 2018 World Cup showcased thrilling matches and historic moments, solidifying its status as a global sporting spectacle.

How the 2018 FIFA World Cup host was selected

In January 2009, the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup tournaments commenced. Initially, nine countries competed for the 2018 event. However, Mexico withdrew, and Indonesia’s bid lacked government support, resulting in its rejection. Consequently, non-UEFA nations gradually withdrew from the 2018 bids, narrowing down to four final contenders: England, Russia, Netherlands/Belgium, and Portugal/Spain.

Moving forward to December 2010, the FIFA Executive Committee gathered in Zürich to vote on the hosts. Russia emerged as the winner of the 2018 tournament in the second round of voting. Portugal/Spain secured second place, with Belgium/Netherlands following. Unfortunately, England, bidding for its second tournament, faced elimination in the first round of the selection process.

The qualification stages of the 2018 World Cup

The teams

The tournament’s 32 qualified nations included 20 participants from the previous 2014 event. Iceland and Panama made their debut appearances, with Iceland becoming the smallest country in population to qualify. Additionally, teams returning after prolonged absences included Egypt, Morocco, Peru, and Senegal. Notable qualifications included three Nordic countries and four Arab nations.

Some significant absences from the tournament were Italy, a four-time champion, failing to qualify for the first time since 1958, and the Netherlands, a three-time runner-up. Reigning continental champions like Cameroon, Chile, New Zealand, and the United States also missed out. Notable qualifying streaks for Ghana and Ivory Coast were broken, both having participated in the previous three tournaments. Remarkably, the host nation, Russia, was the lowest-ranked team to qualify.

Here is the  the FIFA World Rankings at the time of the tournament

Confederation Country Ranking
AFC Australia 36
AFC Iran 37
AFC Japan 61
AFC Saudi Arabia 67
AFC South Korea 57
CAF Egypt 45
CAF Morocco 41
CAF Nigeria 48
CAF Senegal 27
CAF Tunisia 21
CONCACAF Costa Rica 23
CONCACAF Mexico 15
CONCACAF Panama 55
CONMEBOL Argentina 5
CONMEBOL Colombia 16
CONMEBOL Uruguay 14
OFC None qualified
UEFA Belgium 3
UEFA Croatia 20
UEFA Denmark joint 12
UEFA England joint 12
UEFA France 7
UEFA Germany 1
UEFA Iceland 22
UEFA Poland 8
UEFA Portugal 4
UEFA Russia hosts (70)
UEFA Serbia 34
UEFA Spain 10
UEFA Sweden 24
UEFA Switzerland

 Click here to explore the current FIFA World Rankings as of November 2023

The group stage Draw

On December 1, 2017, the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow hosted the draw to select the 2018 world cup groups, for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at 18:00 MSK. They sorted the 32 participating teams into eight groups of four by selecting one team from each of the four ranked pots.

The allocation of teams into the pots relied solely on the FIFA World Rankings of October 2017. This draw process differed from previous ones, which had pot one determined by FIFA rankings while geographical considerations decided the remaining pots. Nevertheless, the group stage draw continued to keep teams from the same confederation apart, allowing only two UEFA teams in one group as an exception. The breakdown of the pots used for the draw is detailed below.

Here is the table showing the breakdown of the pots used for the draw

Pot 1 Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4
Russia (65) (hosts) Germany (1) Brazil (2) Belgium (3)
Portugal (4) Argentina (5) Poland (6) France (7)
Spain (8) Peru (10) Switzerland (11) England (12)
Colombia (13) Mexico (16) Uruguay (17) Croatia (18)
Denmark (19) Iceland (21) Costa Rica (22) Sweden (25)
Tunisia (28) Egypt (30) Senegal (32) Iran (34)
Serbia (38) Nigeria (41) Australia (43) Japan (44)
Morocco (48) Panama (49) South Korea (62) Saudi Arabia(63)

The 2018 world cup groups

After the draw, the groups came out as shown below:

Group A

The inaugural Group A consisted of host nation Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Uruguay. Uruguay emerged as group winners, while Russia surprised many by securing a spot in the knockout stage.

Group B

Group B saw Portugal, Spain, Morocco, and Iran competing fiercely. Spain eventually topped the group, displaying their skillful gameplay.

Group C

France, Denmark, Peru, and Australia made up Group C. France’s powerful squad displayed their strength, while Denmark secured a place in the knockout rounds. Peru and Australia fought valiantly but fell short of advancing.

Group D

Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, and Nigeria formed Group D, showcasing thrilling performances. Croatia and  Argentina managed to progress to the knockout stage.

Group E

Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia competed in Group E. Brazil and Switzerland, who displayed consistent performances progressed to knockout stages

Group F

Group F featured Germany, Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea. Sweden and Mexico progressed to the next stage.

The knockout stage

The top two teams from each group advanced to the knockout stage, with ten European teams, four South American teams, Japan, and Mexico progressing.

Germany were eliminated in the initial round, marking the first time since 1938 that such an exit occurred. This made it the third consecutive tournament where the titleholders were ousted in the first round, following Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014. Notably, no African team advanced to the second round, a scenario not witnessed since 1982.

The final

From the 2018 World Cup groups, the final was between Croatia and France. Both teams featured intense moments from the start. France scored an early own goal by Croatia’s Mandžukić in the 18th minute, but Croatia swiftly equalized a minute later. Griezmann’s penalty for France in the 38th minute sparked debate over the goals at halftime.

Croatia began the second half strongly, yet France increased their lead with goals from Pogba and Mbappé in the 59th and 65th minutes, respectively. Mbappé’s goal made him the second teenager to score in a World Cup final. Despite Croatia’s Mandžukić scoring their second goal in the 69th minute, the match ended 4-2 in favor of France, France emerged triumphant in an exhilarating final. There were 169 goals scored in 64 matches, for an average of 2.64 goals per match.

Click to learn FIFA World Cup Winners List (1930 – 2022)


The following awards were given at the conclusion of the tournament. The Golden Boot (top scorer), Golden Ball (best overall player) and Golden Glove (best goalkeeper) awards were all sponsored by Adidas.


Golden Ball Silver Ball Bronze Ball
Luka Modrić (Croatia) Eden Hazard (Belgium) Antoine Griezmann (France)
Golden Boot Silver Boot Bronze Boot
Harry Kane (England)(6 goals, 0 assists) Antoine Griezmann (France)(4 goals, 2 assists) Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)(4 goals, 1 assist)
Golden Glove
Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
FIFA Young Player Award
Kylian Mbappé (France)
FIFA Fair Play Trophy

Explore FIFA World Cup List of all Golden Boot winners since 1930


France became the sixth nation to win the World Cup multiple times. Furthermore, Deschamps joined an exclusive group as the third individual to achieve World Cup victories both as a player and a manager, following Mário Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer.

Remarkably, the final match marked the highest-scoring event since 1966 and the most significant score within regular play since 1958. During a downpour, Presidents Putin, Macron, and Grabar-Kitarović presented medals to both teams on the field. Subsequently, FIFA president Gianni Infantino awarded the prestigious trophy to French captain Lloris. This coincided with the uplifting sounds of a shortened version of the tournament’s official anthem, “Live It Up.”

If you’ve enjoyed this journey, I invite you to explore a rich tapestry of football star stories by delving into our other articles about football stars below:

Football Legend Ronaldinho Jaylen Brown Garrincha: The Brazilian Legacy sebastian berhalter


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