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World champions France lead the seeds as FIFA reveal European World Cup pots

Belgium and reigning champions France head Europe’s list of top-seeded teams for World Cup qualifying – and they may have to face a Sweden side featuring Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

World governing body FIFA confirmed the six pots of teams on Friday, based on its new list of world rankings, ahead of the December 7 draw in Zurich.

Belgium are the world’s No 1 ranked team while France sit second in FIFA’s rankings, having triumphed at the 2018 World Cup.

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England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands are the other nations in Pot 1.

The European qualifiers begin with three match days in March, meaning World Cup preliminaries start before the delayed Euro 2020 finals.

Dangerous teams in Pot Two include Poland, who boast Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, and Sweden, who could by then have Ibrahimovic back in their ranks.

Ibrahimovic has hinted he wants to come out of international retirement, and coach Janne Andersson this week held a positive meeting with the Milan striker about that possibility.

Should Ibrahimovic come back on board, Andersson would likely want him involved well ahead of Euro 2020, which is due to take place in June and July of next year.

Andersson said on the Swedish FA website: “When Zlatan opened up for games in the national team, it felt natural and important to meet and discuss this as soon as possible. I am glad that we managed to get a meeting so quickly.”

Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s record goalscorer but the 39-year-old Milan striker last played for his country at Euro 2016. He is the top scorer in Serie A this season with 10 goals in six appearances.

Find out which pot your team will be in for the preliminary draw on 7 December #WorldCup | @UEFAcom

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 27, 2020

World Cup pots for Qatar 2022 qualifying draw:

Pot One: Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands

Pot Two: Switzerland, Wales, Poland, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia, Romania

Pot Three: Russia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, Finland

Pot Four: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, Belarus, Georgia, Luxembourg

Pot Five: Armenia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia, Andorra

Pot Six: Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, San Marino

Belgium and reigning champions France head Europe's list of top-seeded teams for 2022 World Cup qualifying