Shock top seeds: FIFA uses rankings for World Cup qualifying in Europe

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FIFA has decided to use its rankings to pick the nine seeded teams in Europe for 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Ahead of the World Cup qualifying draw in St. Petersburg on Saturday FIFA’s announcement means the likes of Wales and Romania will be top seeds for qualifying, while former World Cup winners Italy and France are in the pot of second-seeded teams.

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That means Italy and France could be in the same qualifying group as Spain and Germany for Russia 2018. Talk about a “Group of Death.” Other teams who will be among the second seeds in UEFA qualifying include Switzerland, Czech Republic, Iceland, Denmark, Bosnia, Ukraine and Scotland. Qualifying for European teams kicks off in September 2016, with the final games played in November 2017.

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Below is the list of seeded teams for the qualifying draw, as the nine group winners from Europe will go on to the World Cup in Russia and the eight-best group runners up face a two-leg playoff in order to reach the World Cup finals.

Top seeded UEFA teams in 2018 World Cup qualifying

1. Germany
2. Belgium
3. Netherlands
4. Portugal
5. Romania
6. England
7. Wales
8. Spain
9. Croatia