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.
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.