Lionel Messi possibly facing Robert Lewandowski, Spain definitely playing Germany, and Luis Suarez potentially delivering another game against old foe Ghana.
The World Cup group stage draw opened up some intriguing prospects and will kick off on November 21 with hosts Qatar playing Ecuador.
England will play the United States, with both facing Iran and possibly Ukraine.
A total of 37 teams participated on Friday because three entries in the 32-team lineup are not yet known. They remain to be confirmed in June when the European and intercontinental playoffs end.
Kick-off times and stadiums for each game will be decided this month. That allows FIFA to allocate games to the best broadcast slots for viewers in a team’s home country.
The top two teams in the standings from each group advance to the Round of 16.
This is where the teams landed for November 21-December. 18 tournament:
GROUP A _ Qatar, Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador
Hosts Qatar will make their World Cup debut against Ecuador on November 21.
The Netherlands, three times runner-up in the world, will start against Senegal, the brand new African champion.
GROUP B _ England, United States, Iran, Wales or Scotland or Ukraine
England will open against Iran in the first World Cup match between the countries. England and the United States will meet in their second game. They tied 1-1 in their 2010 group when they both advanced.
England’s last game could be a derby against any of their neighbours, Wales or Scotland, or Ukraine; those three teams are in a playoff bracket in June.
The United States and Iran previously met in the 1998 World Cup, where the Iranians won 2-1.
Group B teams should also start play on November 21. That gives those teams fewer days to prepare for the World Cup, but leads to more days off if they go deeper into the tournament.
GROUP C _ Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia
Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski _ the holders of the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s World Player of the Year award, respectively _ are on course to meet when Argentina play Poland in the last round of group stage matches.
Argentina opens against Saudi Arabia, and Poland starts against Mexico.
GROUP D _ France, Denmark, Tunisia, Peru or Australia or United Arab Emirates
Defending champion France and Denmark were in the same group four years ago and both advanced to the knockout stage. In 2018, they also met Peru and Australia in their group, so a three-team meeting is also possible depending on the outcome of an intercontinental playoff group in June.
GROUP E _ Spain, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica or New Zealand
2010 champions Spain will face 2014 winners Germany in a tough group for Japan.
Costa Rica was a quarterfinalist in 2014, beating Spain, but must first overcome New Zealand in a playoff in June.
GROUP F _ Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada
Belgium was a semi-finalist four years ago and Croatia was the defeated finalist. Canada is an intriguing and tough choice from the lower-ranked teams after topping their qualifying group ahead of Mexico and the USA.
Morocco gets a group with two tough Europeans for consecutive tournaments. Last time, it was Spain and Portugal.
GROUP G _ Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon
Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia are quickly reunited after they were all in the same group in 2018. Brazil will open against Serbia, which they beat 2-0 four years ago.
Brazil should be among the last teams to start play on Nov. 24 _ more time for the team to prepare but a more congested 25-day schedule if it wants to win a record sixth title.
GROUP H _ Portugal, Uruguay, South Korea, Ghana
Cristiano Ronaldo is on course to open his fifth consecutive World Cup final by taking on Ghana.
The group brings together Luis Suarez and Uruguay with Ghana for the first time since their infamous 2010 World Cup quarter-final match. Suarez was sent off for scoring an almost certain winner for Ghana in extra time. The penalty missed and Uruguay went on to win the penalty shootout.