World Cup 2018 qualifying draw: England set for exciting Scotland clash
Current Russia striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Germany legend Oliver Bierhoff caused a stir among the Home Nations in the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying draw, by pairing eternal rivals England and Scotland together in a tricky Group F.
This tasty tie is sure to have fans pumped up for the potentially perilous pool also containing Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta, though both British Isles sides will still fancy their chances of progression, with England a tempting 20/1 with Coral to go all the way in Russia.
The Three Lions have taken the spoils from six of their last seven tussles with their noisy neighbours, racking up six strikes in the previous two clashes, though the Scots are not far behind in the overall head-to-heads, boasting 41 victories to England’s 47.
It was skipper Wayne Rooney who bagged a brace to sink Scotland last time these two met, and the Manchester United marksman celebrated passionately, yet will he still lead the line by 2018, with young-guns such as Harry Kane in the ranks?
Fellow Home Nations teams Wales and Northern Ireland certainly did not benefit from the rub of the green, and both face tougher roads to Russia than England.
Gareth Bale and his Dragons will duel with Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland, plus big-guns Austria and Serbia in a dangerous Group D, as they attempt to reach their first finals since 1958.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland were placed in a formidable Pool C featuring fearsome World Cup holders Germany (who will surely be favourites to top the table and are also 5/1 shouts to retain their trophy), the Czech Republic and Norway.
Other thrilling match-ups across the European zone include football royalty Spain (15/2) and Italy (favoured ahead of the Three Lions at 16/1) pitted against each other in Group G, while the Netherlands, France (10/1) and Sweden will all duke it out in Pool A.
With the Dutch currently in a poor vein of form, if that continues, they could be the ones to come a cropper, as the Swedes now boast a UEFA Under-21 Championship winning side just waiting in the wings for their senior side shots.
Elsewhere, in the South American zone, the draw for matchday one of the round-robin format also saw some enthralling pairings, as recently crowned 2015 Copa America champions Chile (surprisingly rank outsiders at 50/1) face five-time World Cup winners Brazil (10/1), while 2014 finalists Argentina (8/1) host Ecuador.
European zone draw
Republic of Ireland
Bosnia and Herzegovina
See below for full draw results across remaining zones.
First game: North Central America and the Carribean vs Asia
Second game: Oceania vs South America
Round one/two (before final groups are drawn):
Somalia/Niger v Cameroon
South Sudan/Mauritiana v Tunisia
Gambia/Nambia v Guinea
Sao Tome E Principe/Ethiopa v Congo
Chad/Sierra Leone v Egypt
Comoros/Lesotho v Ghana
Djibouti/Swaziland v Nigeria
Eritrea/Botswana v Mali
Seychelles/Burundi v Congo DR
Libera/Guinea Bissau Ivory Coast
Central African Republic/Madagascar v Senegal
Mauritius/Kenya v Cape Verde Islands
Tanzania/Malawi v winner to face Algeria
Sudan v Zambia
Libya v Rwanda
Morocco v Equatorial Guinea
Mozambique v Gabon
Benin v Burkina Faso
Togo v Uganda
Angola v South Africa
No draw for Asia as qualification has already begun.
CONCACAF (North, Central American and Caribbean zone)
Curacao v El Salvador (winner to join Group A)
Canada v Belize (winner to join Group A)
Grenada v Haiti (winner to join Group B)
Jamaica v Nicaragua (winner to join Group B)
St Vincent and the Grenadines v Aruba (winner to join Group C)
Antigua and Barbuda V Guatemala (winner to join Group C)
Trinidad and Tobago
Round one group:
Round two draw:
Papua New Guinea
Winner of round one group
South American zone
Matchday one draw:
Colombia v Peru
Chile v Brazil
Argentina v Ecuador
Venezuela v Paraguay
Bolivia V Uruguay