April 24, 2014
World champions Spain face France in World Cup
World champions Spain will face former world champions France in their campaign to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014 following Saturday's gala preliminary round draw.
Spain, who are also the European champions, were the last name drawn in the European qualifying zone and the last of the 166 countries to be allocated a place in the 107-minute globally televised event in a windswept auditorium at Rio's glamouros Marina da Gloria.
Pele, who won three World Cups with Brazil, took no formal part in the proceedings but another former Brazil striker Ronaldo, the World Cup's record scorer with 15 goals, drew Spain's name out to place them alongside Belarus, Georgia and Finland in the five-team Group I.
The other eight European groups consist of six teams.
French coach Laurent Blanc, in Rio unlike Spain boss Vicente del Bosque, said afterwards: "We had to face one of the top seeds, and we got the biggest because we are somehow in the second group of seeds. We should have been in the first group -- and now we have drawn the best team of the last World Cup, but then, you have no choice."
With only the group winner assured of an automatic place in the finals, one of Spain or France will most likely have to qualify through the playoffs to reach Brazil.