Teams wait for World Cup draw

The real countdown to the 2018 World Cup in Russia begins on Friday as the draw for the tournament is held at a star-studded ceremony in the Kremlin.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to address the footballing world that has descended upon Moscow, in the midst of a freezing Russian winter, to find out who will play who, when and where at the competition next year.

Putin and Russia will hope to make the draw itself a memorable occasion and turn the focus firmly to football, and the chosen setting, by Red Square and St Basil's Cathedral, could scarcely be grander.

The build-up to Russia 2018 has been overshadowed by talk of the controversial awarding of the tournament in the first place, of the friction between Putin's regime and the West, and of fears over terrorism and hooliganism.

Russia s sporting reputation has also taken a battering after investigations into widespread doping by its athletes, including at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

But now football's biggest superstars, from Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, will find out who stands between them and World Cup glory as the draw begins at 6:00 pm local time (1500 GMT) inside the State Kremlin Palace.

The moment has come for Germany to discover who they will meet as they look to become the first nation to successfully defend the title since Brazil in 1962.

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