After what seems like a lifetime of waiting, the group stage draw for the 2022 World Cup will finally be made by FIFA on Friday.
Shortly after proceedings kick off at 17:00 (UK time), beaten Euro 2020 finalists England will learn their three group-stage opponents for the showpiece event in Qatar later this year.
At the last World Cup, the Three Lions' draw was fairly kind with Gareth Southgate's side being pitted against minnows Panama, as well as Tunisia and Belgium. Will England be lucky again, or will fate thrown them a tougher task?
Here is everything you need to know about the Three Lions' draw...
- World Cup 2022 draw: Date, start time, how to watch and format
- World Cup 2022: Which teams have qualified for Qatar?
2022 World Cup draw format: Who will England avoid?
The 32 qualifiers have been split into four pots depending on their FIFA ranking.
England find themselves in Pot 1, alongside the following higher-ranked nations:
- Qatar (hosts)
England cannot draw any of these teams, but other than that, it is a fairly open draw. Each of the groups cannot have more than one team from the same continental confederation with the exception of UEFA, who can have a maximum of two different sides.
2022 World Cup draw format: Who could England get?
Such is the strength of international football at the moment, each of the eight teams in Pot 2 are capable of causing England real problems.
The team that jumps out as one to avoid is Germany. Although England defeated them in the Euro 2020 last-16, Die Mannschaft have made staggering progress under Hansi Flick and rarely disappoint in successive major tournaments.
Netherlands have been going well of late too, losing just once in qualification and being buoyed by the arrival of legendary coach Louis van Gaal. Denmark are also dangerous, taking the Three Lions all the way in the Euro 2020 semi-finals and qualifying strongly for Qatar.
In terms of teams that could provide England with an easier game, the United States have the youngest team at the World Cup and lack experience at the top level. Uruguay also finished well off the pace in CONMEBOL qualifying, while a veteran Croatia side is not getting any younger.
Pot 3 contains some fascinating possibilities for England and there is plenty of variation in the type of team they could face.
- South Korea
Senegal are ones to avoid. The AFCON holders boast a lot of top Europe-based talent and will be determined to buck the trend of African teams struggling at the World Cup.
Poland earned a point against England during qualification back in 2021, and Serbia have a few dangerous players.
Iran actually fared better than South Korea and Japan in AFC qualifying, but only narrowly. Thus, it is hard to say which of the Asian sides will pose the biggest threat.
Drawing either of the two north African teams, Morocco and Tunisia, would likely be greeted with reserved satisfaction.
There is a hell of a lot still to be decided in Pot 4 because a few outstanding qualifying play-offs yet to be played, but that has not stopped us mapping out England's potential opponents.
- Saudi Arabia
- New Zealand/Costa Rica
Ecuador finished just two points behind Uruguay in CONMEBOL qualifying and perhaps deserve to be in Pot 3. They are notoriously strong at home, but won't have they advantage in Qatar. Elsewhere, among the lowest ranked sides, Cameroon tend to blow hot and cold on the international stage.
Canada have an exciting team too, although set to compete at a World Cup for the first time in 36 years, lack major tournament experience and it could prove to be their downfall.
England could even get a group with one of their fellow home nations, but Scotland and Wales need to qualify first - and they can't both make it there.
Meanwhile, if New Zealand make it through the Three Lions will be extremely confident of getting a result – provided they can shackle Chris Wood of course...
England 2022 World Cup draw: Hardest possible group
England 2022 World Cup draw: Kindest possible group
- United States
- New Zealand (if qualified)
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