Federation Internationale de Football Association has confirmed the seven highest-ranked nations joining host Russia as top-seeded teams in the World Cup finals draw.
Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium and Poland are also top-seeded for the December 1 draw in Moscow.
Northern Ireland (23rd), Sweden (25th), Republic of Ireland (26th) and Greece (47th) go into the draw unseeded, with the latter looking to become the first UEFA nation to reach three successive World Cups via the play-offs. Russian Federation goes into the top pot, followed by the top seven-ranked teams, and the remaining 24 teams are spread into the three subsequent pots in order. Instead of one seeded pot and three pots determined by logistical and geographical reasoning, Federation Internationale de Football Association has changed its ways so that all four pots are determined purely based on the rankings. Based on the rankings, Switzerland (11th), Italy (15th), Croatia (18th) and Denmark (19th) will be in pot one and will play one of the four teams in pot two.
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Northern Ireland join the Republic of Ireland as an unseeded country in the draw, but have fallen to 23 in the latest standings. Once one ball has been taken from pot one and another from pot two, they will be placed in a central pot, mixed and then drawn one by one.
The first legs will take place between November 9 and 11, with the return matches scheduled from November 12 to 14.
The Republic, who progressed to the World Cup play-offs, rose eight places to 26th, while Scotland climbed 14 places to 29th despite missing out on a place in Russian Federation 2018 - a result which subsequently saw Gordon Strachan depart as boss.