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Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo

FIFA held the draw for the 2018 World Cup on Friday, which is a reminder that the tournament is still going to happen despite the United States failing to qualify. It is worth noting the U.S only played four total matches in each of the previous two World Cups -- and just three in 2006 when it didn't even advance beyond group play.

The best match in each group does not necessarily include the best two squads. In some situations, the middle teams may provide the best theatre. Also, don't forget about the underdogs (cough, cough, Iceland).

Real Madrid fans, you get some stress early. Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal take on Spain in the first set of games, making for, by far, the most anticipated match of group play. All times below are ET.

Group A: Russia vs. Saudi Arabia (June 14, 10 a.m.)

Elsa/Getty Images - Clive Mason/Getty Images Group A: Russia vs. Saudi Arabia (June 14, 10 a.m.)

If the 2018 World Cup isn't weird enough -- Italy, Netherlands, United States, Ghana, Cameroon and Chile all absent -- Russia actually has a decent chance to advance to the round of 16 despite being the worst-ranked team in the field at No. 65. Vladimir Putin is sure to be on hand in Moscow for this match between the host and the team with the second-worst ranking, Saudi Arabia at No. 63. Remember each group has four teams, and two advance. In addition to having the Saudis in its group, Russia also has Egypt, which is appearing in its first World Cup since 1990.

Group B: Portugal vs. Spain (June 15, 1 p.m.)

Alex Livesey/Getty Images Group B: Portugal vs. Spain (June 15, 1 p.m.)

It will only take four matches before we get a mega-rivalry on Day 2. Of course Portugal and Spain hate drawing each other, but with Iran and Morocco being the other two squads in the group, both should easily survive. Unfortunately, long-time Real Madrid teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos won't know their respective fates before going head-to-head in Sochi, far from the Iberian Peninsula. Around the world, this is a must-watch. Portugal is still riding high after its 2016 Euros title.

Group C: Peru vs. Denmark (June 16, 11 a.m.)

Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images - Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images Group C: Peru vs. Denmark (June 16, 11 a.m.)

France is going to win this group (nominate for Freezing Cold Takes), but the second spot is up for grabs. Peru hasn't played in the World Cup since 1982, but the nation shocked South America by beating out Chile and Paraguay for the final CONMEBOL spot. This may not have been a shock to Brazil, who was knocked out of the 2016 Copa America after losing to Peru in Foxborough. Denmark has only been to one of the past three World Cups, but like Peru, it is peaking at the right time. Two weeks ago, Denmark went into Dublin and beat Ireland 5-1 to punch its ticket to Russia. Australia, which survived a scare from Honduras, could throw a wrench at this matchup with an upset later in group play.

Group D: Argentina vs. Iceland (June 16, 8 a.m.)

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports - Getty Images Europe Group D: Argentina vs. Iceland (June 16, 8 a.m.)

Iceland, after its magical run at the 2016 Euros, proved it is no fluke by winning seven out of ten World Cup qualifying matches. The tiny island will be the darling of the World Cup (at least on TV) with its debut in the tournament field. However, this is still -- for at least one more World Cup -- Lionel Messi's world and we're all just living in it. Iceland vs. Messi is a true David and Goliath matchup. Whose side are you on?


Group E: Brazil vs. Costa Rica (June 22, 7 a.m.)

Getty Images South America Group E: Brazil vs. Costa Rica (June 22, 7 a.m.)

How real is Costa Rica? The nation of roughly 4.86 million shocked the world in 2014 when it won a group featuring England, Italy and Uruguay. Costa Rica knocked off Greece in the Round of 16 and went to penalties with the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. La Sele qualified comfortably for the 2018 World Cup despite a final qualifier loss to Panama (which knocked the U.S. out). Switzerland and Serbia are no slouches in this group, but based on how Brazil and Costa Rica has risen to the occasion in big tournament recently, these are the two squads with high firepower.

Group F: Germany vs. Mexico (June 17, 10 a.m.)

Getty Images Europe Group F: Germany vs. Mexico (June 17, 10 a.m.)

These two met in Sochi last June in a Confederations Cup semifinal with Germany winning 4-1. Germany, now the defending World Cup and Confederations Cup champion, will have the biggest target on its back throughout the tournament. But Mexico has its own pressure to worry about, as El Tri has been eliminated in the Round of 16 for six straight World Cups. Qualifying success may be a good omen. Mexico easily led CONCACAF with 21 points, only losing its final match to Honduras. For players like Chicharito, the dos Santos Brothers and Andres Guardado, this may be their last legitimate effort to make a run in their prime. These two teams could easily end up in the top eight if they don't bruise each other up in group play.

Group G: Belgium vs. England (June 28, 1 p.m.)

USA TODAY Sports - Getty Images Europe Group G: Belgium vs. England (June 28, 1 p.m.)

Belgium was the sexy pick in 2014 and after holding off the United States in the round of 16, The Red Devils narrowly missed a spot in the semifinals, losing 1-0 to eventual runner-up Argentina. Although Belgium was smoked by Wales in 2016 Euro quarterfinals, 3-1, the squad went undefeated in World Cup qualifying and looks poised to make noise again in Russia. On top of this, most of Belgium's stars -- Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Romelul Lukaku to name some -- play in the Premier League. England also went undefeated in qualifying and will have its standard title or bust expectations coming from the UK press. Both nations should move on in a relatively easy group that also includes Tunisia and Panama, but this will be set up to determine the group winner.

Group H: Poland vs. Colombia (June 24, 1 p.m.)

Getty Images Europe - Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Group H: Poland vs. Colombia (June 24, 1 p.m.)

Don't look now, but Poland, which has not played in a World Cup since 2006, is No. 6 in the world. Robert Lewandoski will get a much deserved shot at World Cup glory, although this group is sneaky good. Colombia was a fan favorite during the 2014 World Cup everywhere but maybe Brazil, where James Rodriguez led a late comeback to nearly beat the home nation in the quarterfinals. Poland and Colombia will be the showcase of the group, but Senegal and Japan will be a few bounces away from getting to the knockout stage.

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