When it comes to the FIFA world rankings procedure, ANYTHING is possible.
Like, for example, Switzerland being one of the European teams handed a seed in the World Cup.
Yep, that happened.
Not the Netherlands. Not Italy. Not England.
Switzerland. As in fondue, big mountains and absurdly nice people.
La Nati was handed the seed after finishing 7th in the recent FIFA rankings, released earlier today. The other six nations being put in the top pot of seeds are Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium and Uruguay.
Uruguay’s place in the top pot is subject to their winning the intercontinental playoff against Jordan. In the event they fail to do so, the Netherlands will move into the top pot.
Only the top pot is seeded for the World Cup draw in Bahia on December 6th, with the remaining pools based on geography to ensure a spread of nations in each group. Each group can only have one team from each confederation, with the exception of Europe which will have two nations in four or five groups.
Assuming Uruguay qualify, the geographical draw pots are fairly easy to forecast. One pot may contain eight European countries, another would have the four Asian countries and four from CONCACAF (or New Zealand, depending on the result of their playoff with Mexico), and a final pot of Chile, Ecuador and the five African qualifiers. A separate pot would then contain the lowest-ranked UEFA side, who would be drawn against a non-European team from the seeded pot – Brazil, Argentina, Colombia or possibly Uruguay.
Switzerland grabbed the seed by defeating Albania away 2-1 on October 11th and Slovenia at home 1-0 four days later. Those results saw Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side shoot up seven spots to 7th in the FIFA rankings, taking full advantage of Italy’s costly draw with Armenia.
Although Switzerland’s seeding will come as a surprise to many, they are unbeaten in their last 14 matches, including a 1-0 victory over Brazil. That form is thanks to a group of seasoned veterans Stephan Lichsteiner (Juventus), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), Valon Behrami (Napoli), Tranqillo Barnetta (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Eren Derdiyok (Bayer Leverkusen) gelling well with a pool of strong young talent in Fabian Schar (Basel), Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach) and Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg).
The FIFA rankings will always provide controversial results. But perhaps this time around they have exposed a nation that deserves the footballing world’s adulation for their consistency and compelling upward swing.