Delegates from the 32 nations competing in next summer's World Cup in Russia were present in Moscow on Friday for the full group stage draw, and some absolutely cracking games will be on show in the first few rounds of the competition... As well as some complete borefests.
While those of us in Ireland will have to watch on as spectators thanks to Christian Eriksen and his pals, there will still be many who do their absolute best to watch every game from the tournament, as World Cup fever should take over as more time passes between our playoff elimination and the start of the tournament proper.
As is to be expected by fancy FIFA events there were more than a few legends trotted out for the big draw:
— Cafu. (@officialcafu) December 1, 2017
The bullshit that gets spouted in the tedious build-up to these draws was summed up best by The Guardian's live-blog:
Vladimir Putin has already spoken, particularly about the way that “friendship and fair play are eternal values”. There was no audible laughter.
There was also some strange folk dancing, and then the actual show, finally, got underway.
Carles Puyol, Diegos Maradona and Forlan, as well as Gordon Banks, were on hand to help out with the proceedings before Gary Lineker was introduced as host, and we now have the confirmed groups for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
If it were any other host than Russia getting that group, there'd be cries of a fix, but they wouldn't do that sort of thing at all. England getting a few handy pulls there, which of course will make it all the more enjoyable when they crash out in the group stages.
If you want to apply the completely flawed logic of Ireland's name replacing Denmark in the draw, we would have been up against France, Peru, and Australia...
Or, if you want to apply that logic to Serbia, our qualification group winners, we would have got Brazil, Switzerland, and Costa Rica.
But no, we'll be watching from home.