England could be drawn against France in qualifier


Click to follow
The Independent Online

England face the possibility that they might have to play France in the qualifying groups for the 2014 World Cup finals, which are drawn on Saturday night in Brazil.

Fifa will confirm today that France have not regained their position among the top nine international teams in Europe, meaning that they are in the second pot for the qualifying draw in Rio de Janeiro. The new Fifa world rankings, which will dictate the seedings for Saturday's draw, will be announced today, with no changes to the top nine in Europe.

That means that Spain, Netherlands, Germany, England, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Norway and Greece will make up the top-seeded teams. There are 53 competing nations in Europe, all of whom will be drawn in eight groups of six and one of five for World Cup qualifying.

There are 13 places available for European teams in the 32-team World Cup finals and the quality of the second-seeded pot of nine European teams is high. As well as France, England could potentially face Montenegro, who drew 0-0 at Wembley in the current Euro 2012 qualification, Russia, who beat England in qualification for Euro 2008, Sweden or Turkey.

Fifa has decided that not all the draw for 2014 will be left to chance, ensuring that, owing to "delicate political situations", Russia and Georgia will not be drawn in the same group, and nor will Armenia and Azerbaijan.