ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- European teams in the World Cup draw will be seeded according to the latest world rankings.
FIFA's decision Friday means Romania and Wales are among the nine top-seeded nations despite not playing at a World Cup since 1998 and 1958, respectively.
Former World Cup winners Italy and France are in the pot of second-seeded teams who risk being drawn with either Germany or Spain, the past two winners.
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Only the nine group winners will automatically advance to the tournament in Russia. The eight best runners-up go to a playoff round to decide the final four qualifying slots.
FIFA says Armenia and Azerbaijan will again be separated in Saturday's draw for political reasons.