ENGLAND jumped seven places in the world rankings to 10th yesterday, but consequently learned they have missed out on a place among the top seeds for December’s World Cup group stage draw.
The Three Lions’ presence in pot two for the draw in Bahia on 6 December means they could face hosts Brazil or be paired with a former winner such as Spain, Germany or Argentina.
England’s other possible opponents are Colombia, whose resurgence has been spearheaded by Monaco striker Radamel Falcao; ever-improving Belgium, who, injury permitting, are likely to include 12 Premier League-based players in their 23-man squad for next summers’ finals; or Switzerland, in the midst of a 14-match unbeaten run.
Uruguay or Holland will be the final seeds, dependent on the result of the South Americans’ two-legged play-off against Jordan next month.
The rankings are based on recent results as opposed to records in major international tournaments.
Consequently Brazil, who have been starved of competitive fixtures in the last four years due to automatic qualification for next summer’s showpiece as hosts, have dropped to 11th place.
England manager Roy Hodgson insisted this week, after ensuring their place at the tournament, that he was “not that bothered” about the seeding system and was happy to “embrace whatever happens”.
The latest changes to the rankings also confirmed the identity of the seeds for the European play-off draw which takes place on Monday.
Ukraine, runners-up in England’s group, Greece, Croatia and Portugal will be in pot one and paired with either France, Sweden, Romania or Iceland, who are unseeded and will be placed in pot two.
THREE LIONS’ POTENTIAL WORLD CUP OPPONENTS
WON the Confederations Cup this summer as hosts, inflicting a 3-0 defeat on Spain in the final, and have won 10 of their last 11 fixtures. Brazil prepare to host the World Cup for the second time and have won the tournament five times, more than any other nation.
LOST just two of their last 15 matches, but have never beaten England. A hat-trick from Michael Owen gave the Three Lions a 3-2 win eight years ago. The pair also met at the 1998 World Cup in France when David Beckham scored his first England goal.
HOLDERS and also winners of the last two European Championships. A 3-0 defeat in the Confederations Cup final to Brazil is their sole loss in 32 matches. England’s last defeat to Spain at a major international tournament came at the 1950 World Cup – in Brazil.
WITH a host of Premier League stars in their ranks, Belgium qualified unbeaten. It’s the first time they have reached the World Cup since 2002. Belgium’s only win in 20 meetings with England came in 1936, though the teams have met just once in 14 years.
REACHED at least the semi-finals at the last three World Cups and knocked England out in the second round in 2010. Dropped just two points in qualifying, have scored at least three goals in each of their last nine matches and play England at Wembley next month.
CLIMBED an extraordinary seven places in the latest update to the world rankings. Their presence in Brazil is a fitting end to the career of two-time Champions League winning coach Ottmar Hitzfield who will retire next summer. Were the last team to beat Brazil.
TWICE winners, but have not progressed beyond the quarter-finals since Italia ‘90. Topped the South American qualifying group with one of only two defeats coming earlier this week against Uruguay. Lost their last meeting with England 3-2 in 2005.
Uruguay or Holland
URUGUAY will take the final seeding, ahead of Holland, should they beat Jordan in a play-off next month. Uruguay were the only side England failed to beat during their triumphant 1966 World Cup campaign.