World Cup 2018: England face Scotland after kind draw
First clash with Scotland will be at Wembley on Remembrance Day next year as England eye Russia 2018
England and Scotland have been drawn in the same qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup and will meet at Wembley on Remembrance Day next year.
The two nations were handed a relatively kind group at the draw in St Petersburg, which was attended by both Sepp Blatter and Russian president, Vladimir Putin. They are joined by Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta and Lithuania in Group F.
Wales, who are top seeds in Group D thanks to their current world ranking, will reach their first major tournament since 1958 if they can negotiate a group also featuring the Republic of Ireland
Wales – aiming to reach their first finals since 1958 – are top seeds in Group D thanks to their current world ranking and have been drawn in the same group as the Republic of Ireland. They must also face Austria, Serbia, Moldova and Georgia.
Northern Ireland will play World Cup holders Germany and the Czech Republic in Group C.
The winners of the nine groups will qualify automatically while the eight best runners-up will play off for the remaining four spots.
One of Spain and Italy will have to go through the play-offs after the two countries were drawn in Group G. And one of Netherlands, France and Sweden will miss out altogether after all three were drawn in Group A.
"England will be satisfied if not buoyant following a draw that pits them against an old enemy in Scotland but avoids the traditional powerhouses they could have been matched with from pot two: France and Italy," says Alan Smith of The Guardian. "England must be considered overwhelming favourites to emerge from a group that could have been far more testing and book their place in Russia."
England World Cup qualifying fixtures:
4 September: (a) v Slovakia
8 October: (h) v Malta
11 October: (a) v Slovenia
11 November: (h) v Scotland
26 March: (h) v Lithuania
10 June: (a) v Scotland
1 September: (a) v Malta
4 September: (h) v Slovakia
5 October: (h) v Slovenia
8 October: (a) v Lithuania