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Poland.

How Poland have 'played' the FIFA rankings to reach Pot One in the World Cup draw

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So, we now know the 32 teams that will be competing at the Russia World Cup next summer.

Peru became that final nation to book their place at the tournament after they overcame New Zealand over two-legs.

And with all 32 teams in place, we now know which eight teams make up each Pot.

One team from each Pot will make up the eight groups. It’s as simple as that.

Oh, apart from the fact that you can’t have more than one nation from the same confederation - except UEFA where you can have two counties in the same group.

A lot of people have been having fun, speculating at what the groups could be ahead of the official draw on Friday 1 December.

The hosts, Russia, have been placed in Pot One, along with the seven highest-ranked sides. Then Pot Two is made up of the next eight ranked sides and so on…

Unsurprisingly, Pot One contains some giants of world football with Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium and France joining Russia.

FBL-RUS-WC-2018-TOUR

How Poland have 'played' the FIFA rankings

But there’s another nation that has somehow found their way into Pot One - Poland.

Poland are, rather incredibly, the sixth-best ranked country in the world despite having reached the knockout rounds only once in 36 years.

How are they in Pot One?

Well, Spanish outlet Marca have produced an excellent report explaining exactly how.

First, an overview of how the FIFA rankings work.

“FIFA's system is based on how a team has performed over the last four seasons, weighting each calendar year's results into points. That means, for example, that only 20 percent of the points earned four years ago still count with 100 percent of the most recent 12 months' points accounted for.”

FBL-WC-2018-QUALIFIER-POL-MNE

All nations have to do to keep their points is to play five games a year, which the Poles have easily managed in qualification. They topped a relatively easy group of Denmark, Montenegro, Romania, Armenia and Kazakhstan - winning eight of their 10 matches.

Before this month, they haven’t played a friendly since November 2016, when they drew 1-1 with Slovenia. Meanwhile, the likes of England and Spain - who find themselves in Pot Two - have been playing tough friendly matches against decent opposition.

But why Poland play two friendlies during the recent international break?

Because the rankings for the World Cup Pots were taken from October - meaning these two friendlies didn’t affect their points. Incidentally, they drew 0-0 with Uruguay and lost 1-0 with Mexico.

So, Poland have actually ‘played’ FIFA’s rankings to perfection to earn themselves a Pot One position.

To be fair, it’s very clever but ever so sneaky.

Maybe England and Spain will be wishing they had done the same if they get drawn in the Group of Death.

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Topics:
Robert Lewandowski
England Football
Football
Spain Football
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