Sweden, Denmark and Iceland are all heading to Russia
Now we know that Sweden, Denmark and Iceland are all heading to Russia for the World Cup next summer, agents across the Nordic region will be playing a role in organising fans’ trips there.
Following the play-off matches, we know all 32 teams to compete in Russia, in games to take place in 11 cities: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Sochi, Ekaterinburg, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Samara, Volgograd and Nizhny Novgorod.
But who plays who won’t be clear until the draw takes place on the afternoon of Friday, December 1 at Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace concert hall. That can be watched live on, for example, the BBC Sport website and app.
There are four ‘pots’ for the draw, each pot containing eight teams, ordered according to how the teams are seeded. Russia is joined in pot one by the seven highest-ranked teams, with the next eight in pot two, the following eight in pot three and the lowest ranked eight in pot four.
In general, no teams are drawn in the same group, which means that Denmark (seeded 19th), Iceland (seeded 21st) and Sweden (seeded 25th) will not play against each other in the pool stage. But any of them could find themselves in the same group as tournament favourites and defending champions Germany.
A nightmare for any of the Nordic teams could be to be drawn against Brazil, Spain and Japan, whereas a dream scenario could be in opposition against Russia, Peru and Panama.
Joachim Low’s Germany want to be the first country to win back-to-back World Cups since Pele’s Brazil in 1958 and 1962. Germany, Belgium, Spain and England all emerged from the European qualifying stage unbeaten.
Brazil did well in the South American matches, while in Asia, Iran were unbeaten. Morocco qualified without conceding a goal. Iceland, meanwhile, are the only country with a population of under one million to ever reach a World Cup. It’s Panama’s first World Cup too. But Italy, the Netherlands, Chile, the United States, the Czech Republic and Ivory Coast all failed to qualify.
Football governing body Fifa got about 3.5 million ticket applications, including 300,000 for the final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, during the first window in October. Just over 620,000 were allocated via a random draw. Ticket sales resume later this month. The cheapest ticket price for a non-Russian for the final is €387.