Having taken the title in Guatemala in 2000 and defended it four years later in Chinese Taipei, Spain will aim to complete a hat-trick in Brazil next autumn. But first they must win qualifying round Group 3 on home soil to gain one of five places in the play-offs. The winners of those home and away play-offs will then qualify for Brazil.
Among the other pools, 2004 runners-up Italy will host Andorra, Cyprus and Kazakhstan in Group 8, while their fellow former European champions Russia - who did not qualify for the last World Cup - are up against Serbia and France in Group 1, which like Spain's section boasts only three teams. Of the other teams to compete in Chinese Taipei, Portugal play Slovakia, Latvia and Turkey, Ukraine face debutants Moldova, Israel and Bulgaria and the Czech Republic take on Azerbaijan, Finland and Armenia.
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