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As it happened: The 2018 World Cup draw

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With the 2018 World Cup draw taking place in Moscow on Friday, we will guide you through all of the news, reaction and analysis as the 32 teams are drawn into eight groups.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news

Below you will find our running live blog of witty banter, wistful USMNT chat and, most importantly, the group stage draw as it happened in Russia.

Join myself, Joe Prince-Wright, and Nick Mendola (NM).


11:05 a.m. ET: That’s a wrap for the World Cup draw. Thanks for joining us! Here you can find more details on the groups, plus the full schedule for the tournament and more. Just over six months to go.


11 a.m. ET: Some reaction coming through via BBC in Moscow at the draw. Belgium’s coach Roberto Martinez reacts to drawing England.

“I lived for 21 years in England so it is very special. It’s the World Cup, we have a challenging draw, lots of travelling. We are looking forward to it. We have a really good group of players, 25 players are now in the British game so are very well known. They have important roles in important teams and they enjoy playing for their country,” Martinez said.

On the opposite side, England boss Gareth Southgate summed up what the World Cup draw was like for a manager who also represented the Three Lions in his playing career.

 “There’s a bit of travelling, but having the six-day break between games might help any injuries clear up. You’re always grateful for as much prep as possible. Travel wise, the way tournaments are now you’ve got to be adaptable, but our kick-off times are decent as well,” Southgate said.

“It’s been great today to mix with more experienced coaches. It’s nice to have a fresh challenge. When you’re trying to qualify, you don’t think about days like today but that’s the beauty of the World Cup. When you look at old videos and goals it takes you back to the pureness of football. Now, the country knows what’s coming and they can get excited. I was proud to play for my country, and to lead my country is beyond that. I’m really looking forward to it.”


10:57 a.m. ET: So that does it! Here are your groups

Lots to break down, and we’ll be doing it over the next few hours, but England and Russia will appreciate their draws while Mexico has plenty of work to do with Germany, South Korea, and Sweden.

If Portugal and Argentina win their groups or both finish second, there’s a potential quarterfinal date between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. – NM


10:51 a.m. ET: Russia is going to love the draw it demanded the totally random draw that dropped Saudi Arabia, untested Egypt, and Uruguay in its group. Totally random. Toe-tull-ee. – NM


10:48 a.m. ET: This just in — Iran hates its life. It’ll get to watch its men play Portugal and Spain. One more team could will be named here. -NM


10:45 a.m ET: Lovely, lovely stuff. We are rocking and rolling and here’s how things look after two teams are drawn out for each group.

Groups B, D and F look particularly tasty…

Group A: Russia, Uruguay
Group B: Portugal, Spain
Group C: France, Denmark, Peru
Group D: Argentina, Croatia
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland
Group F: Germany, Mexico
Group G: Belgium, England
Group H: Poland, Colombia


10:39 a.m. ET: Wow, here we go. Things are getting very lively in Moscow!

Uruguay are drawn with the hosts Russia in Group A, while Spain join their Iberian neighbors Portugal in Group B and they play one another in the opening group game. Mexico have Germany. England have Belgium. Argentina and Croatia are also paired up.


10:36 a.m. ET: The top seeds have all be drawn into groups now. Here’s how it stands:


10:32 a.m. ET: Russia have been drawn as A1! We knew that already, but we have a ball out of the glass bowl. I repeat. We have tiny bits of paper being unscrewed.


10:30 a.m. ET: Bang on schedule, Lineker and Komandnaya appear on stage and the glass bowls are full of plastic balls and we just minutes away here folks. Here we go!


10:26 a.m. ET: Here we go! The draw is starting (finally) and we have a Diego Maradona sighting! He’s out, along with other legendary players from World Cup winning teams in the past. Cafu, Laurent Blanc, Gordon Banks, Diego Forlan, Carlos Puyol and Co. are led out by individuals dressed as, well, sort of Christmas decorations shaped like cones. Seriously.


10:24 a.m. ET: We are now treated to a montage of legendary clips from World Cups gone by. Pele. Eusebio. Maradona. Messi. Ronaldo. Baggio. My word. Lump in the throat moment.


10:20 a.m. ET: To give you an update on what’s going on from the Kremlin, we have yet to see the glass bowls and plastic balls. We now have a Russian folk dance on stage to entertain us. Lovely stuff.


10:16 a.m. ET: Miroslav Klose appears on the stage holding the World Cup trophy. With 16 goals, he’s the all-time leading goalscorer in World Cup history. He seems delighted to be there.


10:12 a.m. ET: For the nerds out there (that includes me) Group B seems to be the one everyone wants to be drawn in. Why? Well, that’s because there isn’t much travel involved for the group games. Come onnnn Group B!


10:07 a.m. ET: More from Putin at the Kremlin –  “Visitors can learn more about Russian culture, and experience our hospitality which is traditional. We know how to host our friends.” He also says that it will be a “major sporting festival” and promises “friendship” and “fair play.”


10:03 a.m. ET: We are off and running for the draw as Russia’s president Vladimir Putin gives a speech to introduce the event. Only a small microphone glitch…


9:50 a.m. ET: Another handy reminder here of the four pots for the draw.


9:40 a.m. ET: ICYMI, former England international Gary Lineker (now a host with the BBC and BT Sport in the UK) will be joined by Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya to host the event.

Not long now!


9:35 a.m. ET: If I could, I suggest you get ready for the draw by looking through our World Cup draw roundtable as our writers discussed the key topics including “Group(s) of Death” scenarios, the dark horses and more. We had a lot of fun. Way too much anti-England banter flying around for my liking though…


9:33 a.m. ET: And “how does this work?” is probably your next question. Right. Stay with me here. Here’s an explainer:

One team will be drawn from each pot to make up the eight groups of four teams. No nations from the same confederations can be drawn with one another in the group stage but there is one exception: two teams from the UEFA (Europe) region can be drawn in the same group.

We all good here? If not, here’s a more detailed look at how the draw will work.


9:30 a.m. ET: “Who is actually in this thing?” Ah, yes, that’s a good question. Here’s a look at the four pots with host Russia in Pot 1 alongside the top seven ranked teams from FIFA’s world rankings in October, then the next eight highest-ranked teams in Pot 2, then the eight highest after them in Pot 3 and the lowest-ranked eight teams in Pot 4.

Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
Pot 2: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
Pot 3: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
Pot 4: Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia


9:28 a.m. ET: Good morning! This is it. Don’t get scared now. For U.S. national teams fans today is one of those days where the reality of the situation settles in. For the first time since 1986, the U.S. will not be at the World Cup and therefore there will be no “United States” on a piece of paper inside one of those little plastic balls which seem ridiculously tough to unscrew.

To get you ready for the World Cup draw, let’s hope that we get some comedy moments like this from the draw for the 1994 World Cup as Robin Williams met Sepp Blatter. I have a feeling the draw on Friday in Moscow may be a little more subdued than this, but what a legendary performance from Williams.

VIDEO: ProSoccerTalk team unfiltered – Review, preview, Power Rankings and more

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ProSoccerTalk is now on video as well as in written format. Unleash the beast, as they say.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Each week ProSoccerTalk writers Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards will tell us what they learned from the Premier League action, rank their top five PL players based on current form, preview the upcoming weekend and handle any other news from around the soccer world.

Expect opinions, analysis and insight, as well as plenty of friendly banter along the way and maybe a beer or two…

Basically, they have these chats on their own anyway so we thought we would record them and let them loose on the Premier League, USMNT and everything in-between. This is going to be a lot of fun and a lighthearted look at all of the action from across the soccer world each week.

With JPW is based in England and heading to Premier League games and traveling to stadiums/ training grounds, plus Andy and Nick based Stateside, we will be checking in with them regularly to get their views on just about anything when it comes to Pro Soccer. Because, well, ProSoccerTalk.

Follow the ProSoccerTalk lads on Twitter below, and click play on the video above to watch ProSocccerTalk this week in full.

Champions League qualifying: How to watch, start times, odds

UEFA Champions League qualifying
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The 12 clubs remaining in the race for the final UEFA Champions League group stage slots will be pared down to six in the next eight days.

There are American connections to two of the six ties.

Former USMNT midfielder Jesse Marsch manages Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg toward the next round, while Molde right back Henry Wingo came up with the Seattle Sounders.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Salzburg are significant favorites to advance over two legs, odds accentuated by Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s seven players absent due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Marsch had previously said he did not want to go to Israel due to COVID-19 concerns, calling it “dangerous,” but has accepted the task at hand.

From Austrian publication Kronen Zeitung:

“The moment UEFA said we were going to play in Tel Aviv, it wasn’t a problem for me. Maccabi has a great team. We are not naive. We understand that we have to fight tomorrow.”

At 3:10 in some sportsbooks, Marsch’s men are the only club favored to win the first leg away. Salzburg is led by Dominik Szoboszlai and Patson Daka, who’ve helped the team thrive despite the sales of several stars including Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino.

Molde has a much tougher test with Hungarian side Ferencvaros, who knocked off Celtic. That tie could go either way, while Slavia Prague and Olympiakos are respectively noticeable favorites to beat Midtjylland and Omonia Nicosia.

Dynamo Kiev will be expected to outlast Gent over two legs, while it would be a minor upset if PAOK takes down Krasnodar.


How to watch the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff round

Kickoff: 3 pm ET Tuesday and Wednesday
Stream: CBS All-Access (subscription required)


UEFA Champions League playoff round matches

All 12 legs will kickoff at 3 pm ET between Tuesday and Sept. 30.

Tuesday

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg
Slavia Prague 0-0 Midtjylland
Krasnodar 2-1 PAOK

Wednesday

Gent v Dynamo Kiev
Molde v Ferencvaros
Olympiakos v Omonia

Sept. 29

Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Sept. 30

Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv

League Cup: How to watch, start times, as Premier League powers enter

League Cup
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
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Fifteen Premier League teams eye dates in the fourth round when the League Cup returns for another September midweek.

The congested nature of the season will see some PL sides play three matches in as many weeks, though the European qualifying teams are just entering the fray this week.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

That includes Europa League sides Arsenal and Leicester City, who will stage the lone all-PL scrap of the round come Wednesday at the King Power Stadium.

Tuesday was going to see Tottenham Hotspur visit a club sponsored by Spurs striker Harry Kane, but Leyton Orient is in the news after positive COVID-19 tests have threatened to forfeit Spurs into the next round.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Manchester United will hope to snap out of its season-opening funk when it begins its tourney Tuesday at Luton Town, while Chelsea hosts Barnsley on Wednesday.

Liverpool is off to Lincoln City on Thursday, kicking off its League Cup at the same time Manchester City welcomes Bournemouth.

Because of the aforementioned congested September in the tournament, the fourth round draw has already been held and those fixtures are at bottom of the page.


League Cup third round draw

All times ET

Tuesday
Leyton Orient v Tottenham Hotspur — Postponed
West Brom 2-2 Brentford – (Brentford win on penalty kicks)
Newport County 3-1 Watford 
West Ham United 5-1 Hull City
Luton Town 0-3 Manchester United 

Wednesday
Preston North End v Brighton — 2 pm
Millwall v Burnley — 2 pm
Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday — 2 pm
Stoke City v Gillingham — 2 pm
Chelsea v Barnsley — 2:45 pm
Leicester City v Arsenal — 2:45 pm
Fleetwood Town v Everton — 2:45 pm
Morecambe v Newcastle United — 2:45 pm

Thursday
Bristol City v Aston Villa — 2 pm
Lincoln City v Liverpool — 2:45 pm
Manchester City v Bournemouth — 2:45 pm


League Cup fourth round draw

Lincoln City/Liverpool v Leicester City/Arsenal
Millwall/Burnley v Manchester City/Bournemouth
West Brom/Brentford v Fulham/Sheffield Wednesday
Fleetwood Town/Everton v West Ham United/Hull City
Bristol City/Aston Villa v Stoke City/Gillingham
Leyton Orient/Tottenham v Chelsea/Barnsley
Newport County/Watford v Morecambe/Newcastle United
Preston North End/Brighton v Luton Town/Manchester United


How to watch League Cup third round streams and start time

Kickoff: Tuesday through Thursday
Online: Select games on ESPN+
Updates: Follow League Cup scores via NBCSports.com

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Premier League player Power Rankings are here!

Our second player Power Rankings of the 2020-21 season have arrived, as all 20 teams have played and we are coming off the highest scoring matchweek in Premier League history with 44 goals scored across the 10 games.

Simply put: it was incredibly tough to put 20 players in this list based on the crazy results across the Premier League.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA

Stars from Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton dominate our second player Power Rankings and there are plenty of new signings who have impressed early in the season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t going to be in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
2. James Rodriguez (Everton)
3. Kevin de Bruyne (Man City)
4. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
5. Heung-min Son (Tottenham)
6. Fabinho (Liverpool)
7. Tariq Lamptey (Brighton)
8. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
9. Raul Jimenez (Wolves)
10. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
11. Gabriel (Arsenal)
12. Dani Ceballos (Arsenal)
13. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
14. Vicente Guaita (Crystal Palace)
15. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
16. Patrick Bamford (Leeds)
17. Timothy Castagne (Leicester)
18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
19. Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
20. Kalvin Phillips (Leeds)