Tough draws thrown up in World Cup fight

PAST winners Italy and Spain have been paired together as the draw for European qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia threw up some tasty match-ups.

England (pictured) will also face old enemy Scotland, as well as Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta and Lithuania.

In the toughest group, another former winner, France, will have to battle three-time runners-up the Netherlands and Sweden.

Defending champion Germany was drawn alongside Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino.

Wales are top seeds in Group D and will play the Republic of Ireland.

The winner of each of the nine European groups qualify automatically alongside host Russia, with the best eight runners-up entering the two-legged playoffs.

New Zealand will have to beat the fifth-best side in South America if it comes through regional qualifying.

Topics:  football world cup

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