Who’s in pot 1? Russia, as the host nation, plus the top seven ranked teams in the tournament: Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France.
Wait — Belgium? Yes, Belgium. With players like Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, it has become a solid team in recent years, making the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championships and qualifying for 2018 with ease.
But Poland? That one’s tougher to explain. Poland was not even close to qualifying in 2014, but an 8-1-1 qualifying campaign — plus a refusal to play friendlies that appears to have helped them game the FIFA rankings system — pushed the Poles into the top pot.
What about the other three pots? Pot 2 consists of Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Croatia. Pot 3 is Denmark, Iceland,…