Spain and Portugal drawn in same World Cup group

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The Atlas Lions have been handed, arguably, the most hard group among the five countries representing the continent, as they share Group B with former World Cup champions Spain, reigning European champions Portugal and Iran.

Roberto Martinez also will be making his World Cup debut. It is the second consecutive round Team Melli is in the World Cup. No group has two former winners for the first time since 2006.

Defending World Cup and 2017 Confederations Cup champions Germany drew Concacaf big boys Mexico, European playoff winners Sweden and South Korea in a tough Group F.

This will be the fifth time Morocco will participate in the World Cup, after previously playing in 1970, 1986, 1994, and 1998. With Nigeria performing well lately, Croatia having a variety of individual talents including Real Madrid's Luka Modric, Iceland putting up a brilliant show of shared strength and Argentina struggling to qualify while having a pretty decent squad that includes Lionel Messi, the group will result in a set of balanced yet competitive face-offs. Mexico have been eliminated in the round of 16 at six straight World Cups.

Iceland were drawn with Argentina Croatia and Nigeria in group D
Iceland were drawn with Argentina Croatia and Nigeria in group DBertrand Langlois AFP Getty Images

"We have shown through the years that if we play well, we can at least give them a good game".

While this group is expected to be a simple race to the top between England and Belgium with both having players like Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne respectively, Panama and Tunisia may not really affect the expected results of the group.

Poland are the top seeds in Group H, where Colombia represent tough matchday two opposition.

"It is going to be one of those games with no secrets", said Martinez, a former Everton manager.

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Neymar's Brazil meanwhile will have to negotiate a group including Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.

France will face three teams who came through qualifying playoffs last month: Peru, Denmark and Australia.

"It could have been worse", France coach Didier Deschamps said. "They are the champions of Europe, they have fantastic players and we are talking about the highest level".

Group H, the only group not to include a former World Cup victor, features world No 7 Poland, No 13 Colombia, along with Senegal and Asian giants Japan.

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Based on the draw's results, Brazil have the best chance to win the World Cup at 20.8 percent, followed by Spain at 15.9 percent and Germany at 10.9 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight's Soccer Power Index.

People will say that it will have suited Vladimir Putin down to the ground but I do not believe there was any foul play in the draw. Olympic doping scandals, political tension and controversy around the World Cup bidding process have often overshadowed Russia's preparations for the tournament. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, head of the local World Cup organizing committee, defended himself against accusations he helped orchestrate state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee executive board will decide on Tuesday whether to ban Russian Federation from the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics.

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