France the fear as England wait for Ronaldo to deliver their World Cup fate
Saturday 30 July 2011
Forty-five years ago today, on a sunny afternoon in north London, West Germany were overcome 4-2 at Wembley.
This evening, nearly 6,000 miles away in sunny Rio de Janeiro, England's 12th and latest quest to replicate the achievements of Sir Alf Ramsey's side will be mapped out.
With 1,048 days to go before the opening match of the World Cup finals, England will tonight discover the five – or maybe it will be four – teams that lie between them and a place in Brazil. The draw takes place at the Marina da Gloria, beneath the Sugar Loaf Mountain, and England want to avoid the steep demands of ending in the same group as France.
As one of the seeds England are in Pot 1, while France's recent poor record puts them in Pot 2 where Russia and Sweden also lurk dangerously.
England were unlucky logistically four years ago when drawing Kazakhstan (a 6,000-mile round trip) and Ukraine (2,600 miles) in qualifying for the 2010 finals, and will hope to avoid similarly lengthy trips this time around when Ronaldo determines their fate. Drawing one or more of the home nations remains a possibility.
The lottery begins at 7pm, with the European section expected to start at around 8.30pm. Eight groups of six will be drawn, with one group of five. The nine group winners will qualify automatically, while the eight best runners-up go into two-legged play-offs to determine the final four European places. The European qualifying round starts in September 2012 and ends in October 2013. Globally there are 832 qualification games with 175 nations still in the running.
*Pot 1: Spain, Netherlands, Germany, England, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Norway, Greece
*Pot 2: France, Montenegro, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia, Turkey, Serbia, Slovakia
*Pot 3: Switzerland, Israel, Rep of Ire, Belgium, Czech Republic, Bosnia-Herz, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary
*Pot 4: Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Lithuania, Albania, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Austria, Poland
*Pot 5: Armenia, Finland, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Moldova, FYR Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Faroe Isles
*Pot 6: Wales, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Malta, Andorra, San Marino
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