Spain and England at risk as World Cup draw pots confirmed
FIFA has confirmed the pots for next month's World Cup draw after Peru defeated New Zealand to complete the 32-team line-up for the finals in Russia.
The South American nation won the second leg of their inter-continental play-off 2-0 in Lima and will be in Pot 2 when the draw is made in the Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 1.
Hosts Russia are joined by reigning champions Germany, five-time winners Brazil and fellow heavyweights Argentina, France and European champions Portugal, as well as talented Belgium and Poland sides, in Pot 1.
Together with Peru, Pot 2 includes 2010 winners Spain, 1966 champions England, along with Switzerland, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Croatia.
Pot 3 contains debutants Iceland, surprise 2014 quarter-finalists Costa Rica and Denmark, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Iran.
Finally, a resurgent Serbia and Nigeria share Pot 4 with Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
An even spread of talent in Pot 3 and 4 arguably reduces the prospects of a 'group of death' being drawn, although the presence of Spain and England in Pot 2 raises the prospect of mouth-watering early encounters among some of football's traditional powerhouse nations.
As well as an early showdown with one of the favourites, England could also find themselves up against recent nemesis Iceland, who stunningly eliminated the Three Lions from Euro 2016 in the round of 16.
Croatia could be placed in a group with neighbours and fierce rivals Serbia, while Uruguay may be drawn in a group with familiar CONMEBOL foes in the form of Brazil or Argentina.
World Cup draw pots:
Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France.
Pot 2: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia.
Pot 3: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran.
Pot 4: Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia.