Following Tuesday night's international games, the seeds for next summer's World Cup in Brazil are now close to confirmed, with Roy Hodgson's England missing out on top-seed status per the Telegraph's Ben Rumsby.
England, like Italy and potentially Netherlands, will thus be at the mercy of the draw regarding a potential first-round encounter with one of the tournament's favourites.
World Cup top 8 seeds Brazil Spain Argentina Germany Belgium Switzerland Colombia Uruguay (if won't win play-off: Holland)— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) October 16, 2013
Per ESPN FC's Dale Johnson, the following nations will be top seeds next summer:
The eight seeded teams will be Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay (as long as they qualify) and Switzerland. The seeds will become official with the Thursday release of October's FIFA rankings.
So, with that being the case, eight further European nations—including England, Italy and Netherlands—will head into a second pot, while the lowest-ranked European nation will be placed in a separate pot.
|Italy||Playoff Winner 1|
|England||Playoff Winner 2|
|Russia||Playoff Winner 3|
The idea behind the separate pot is that the country can only be drawn in a group with Brazil, Argentina, Colombia or Uruguay to prevent three UEFA nations being drawn in the same group.
Potentially, that nation could be France, who will be the highest-ranked unseeded nation in the European playoffs, according to Johnson.
For England, that would undoubtedly be a nightmare scenario.
The remaining two groups of teams are difficult to predict at present, with FIFA set to decide upon geographical grounds. But, for the past two tournaments, Asia have been paired with North America, while South America's remaining sides would then be paired with Africa. That, though, is far from certain, with two intercontinental playoffs remaining.
For Hodgson's side, avoiding a South American side would be preferable. Belgium or Switzerland would likely be their choice of top seed to face, while a group completed with two sides from Asia, Africa and Central America would be about the best they could hope for.
Should all playoffs go according to expectations, then, the ideal group for England would be Switzerland, Burkina Faso or Algeria of the African playoffs, and then Australia from the Asia-North America grouping.
|England's best-case scenario||England's worst-case scenario|
On the other hand, being drawn with hosts Brazil and then, potentially, France would be the worst-case scenario. Add the likes of Mexico, Japan or Ghana into that group, and there would be case for plenty more "Group of Death" headlines next summer.