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FIFA World Cup European draw: full briefing

Following Saturday's draw for 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, remind yourself of the key points from the six pots that decided Europe's 52 entrants' destinies.

Holders Germany were among the top seeds
Holders Germany were among the top seeds ©Getty Images

The seedings for the European 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw were confirmed on Friday.

Europe's 52 hopefuls (all UEFA national associations except automatically qualified hosts Russia and non-FIFA members Gibraltar) were split into six pots, based on the July FIFA world rankings. The draw ceremony, which involved all of FIFA's continental confederations, was held at Konstantinovsky Palace in St Petersburg, starting at 17.00CET.

Pot 1: Germany (holders), Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, England, Wales, Spain, Croatia

• Compared with Pot 1 for 2014 World Cup qualifying, Italy, Norway and Greece are replaced by Belgium, Romania and Wales.

Germany hope for first successful title defence since Brazil in 1962; no holders have failed to qualify.

Wales's all-time highest FIFA ranking of 10th put them in the top category having been in the lowest Pot 6 four years ago.

Slovakia only just missed out on Pot 1
Slovakia only just missed out on Pot 1©AFP/Getty Images

Pot 2: Slovakia, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Denmark, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Slovakia were pipped to Pot 1 by 6.34 points thanks to Croatia's June draw with Italy (who in turn missed out by subsequently losing a friendly to Portugal).

Iceland, have never qualified for a major tournament; like Wales, they were in Pot 6 for 2014 qualifying.

France avoided their four opponents from 2014 qualifying – Spain, Belarus, Georgia and Finland.

Pot 3: Ukraine, Scotland, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Albania, Northern Ireland, Serbia, Greece

Albania have never previously been in the third tier of seeds when there have been four or more pots.

• This was the first time Greece have not figured among the top two tiers since winning UEFA EURO 2004.

Greece would have been in Pot 4 had Russia been in qualifying.

The Faroes were in their highest-ever pot
The Faroes were in their highest-ever pot©AFP

Pot 4: Turkey, Slovenia, Israel, Republic of Ireland, Norway, Bulgaria, Faroe Islands, Montenegro, Estonia

• This was the first time the Faroe Islands had been in one of the top four tiers of seeding in any senior tournament.

• Four of these sides – Turkey, Ireland, Montenegro and Estonia – reached the UEFA EURO 2012 play-offs (Ireland beating Estonia to qualify).

Ireland, Norway and Bulgaria all qualified for the last 24-team finals in 1994.

Pot 5: Cyprus, Latvia, Armenia, Finland, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Moldova

• Just one of the nine Pot 5 teams in the 2014 qualifying draw did not register a win – the Faroe Islands, now the highest ranked of that nonet.

Pot 6: Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Georgia, Malta, San Marino, Andorra

• Only Georgia were not in Pot 6 four years ago, with Wales and Iceland (who ended up in the play-offs) having dramatic promotions after rises of around 100 places in the FIFA rankings.

• The eight Pot 6 teams managed 43 points between them in 2014 qualifying, including 16 by sides in this category again this time.