Chris Coleman’s Wales could be at a huge advantage when the draw for the World Cup play-offs takes place on October 17.
After rising from 18th to 13th in the FIFA world rankings – two spots above England, making them the highest-ranked British team – the Dragons could potentially avoid some of the heavy hitters for a crucial home and away decider for the 2018 World Cup.
Should Wales cement a play-off spot, they would be placed in one of two draw pots of four teams each ahead of the play-off draw.
Due to their world ranking of 13th, which is higher than all current second-placed sides besides Portugal, Wales would be placed in the pot containing the four highest-ranked teams.
It would guarantee Wales that neither Portugal or Italy could be drawn against them in the do-or-die World Cup play-offs.
However, Wales must first secure a play-off spot which, despite their second-place positioning in Group D, they are currently not in line for a play-off berth if the draw was made today.
European Qualifying includes nine groups where only eight of the second-placed teams earn a play-off spot for next year’s World Cup.
Wales are currently bottom of this ‘Ranking of runners-up’ table on eight points – trailing 8th-placed Bosnia only on goal difference.
In this group, wins against 6th placed sides do not count towards the final points tally. So, to Wales’ advantage, wins against Moldova (5th in Group D) and Republic of Ireland (3rd in Group D) on the final round of World Cup qualifiers will count towards their overall tally and boost their chances of earning a play-off spot.