Continental giants Portugal and Sweden were drawn together in the pick of the World Cup qualifying play-offs in Europe made by football’s governing body FIFA on Monday.

Former champions France were given a favourable pairing as they travel to Ukraine for the first leg on 15 November while Greece will host Romania and Croatia play their first leg in Iceland.

Former World Cup semi-finalists Portugal and Sweden were the first two countries pulled out of the hat as Cristiano Ronaldo will defy Zlatan Ibrahimovic in what will be a battle of star-studded line-ups.

Didier Deschamps’ French side, who were narrowly beaten to top spot in their pool by defending champions Spain, travel to the Euro 2012 co-hosts where they defeated Ukraine 2-0 in group play.

“We were not seeded and could have played Portugal or Croatia who have a long history, but Ukraine is not a simple draw either,” Deschamps told Eurosport tv.


“They are on a run of seven matches without defeat and they concede very few goals as well as a long trip over there,” he continued.

“It’s good to have the return leg at home but one team will qualify and the other will be staying home for the World Cup.

“We have to have a lot of confidence and respect the opposition,” added the 1998 World Cup winning captain.

The return leg will be played on 19 November.

Ukraine’s key player Artem Fedetsky of Dnepropetrovsk believes in his side’s chances despite a tough draw.

“We’ve already been buried after the poor start in the qualifying campaign.

“However, we managed to come back and reach the play-off stage. After that every single match for us was like the final, like a do-or-die mission.

“Now we have serious experience of playing the most important matches. We are a cohesive team now and, I believe, we have fair chances to go through,” he added.

Romania are bidding to return to the final stages for the first time since 1998 and will fancy their chances against goal-shy Greece, who were beaten to top spot in their pool by Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Finally, Iceland look to qualify for the first time in their history against a Croatia side coming off back to back defeats against Scotland and in the midst of a managerial change.

The four winners will qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil from June 12 to July 13.

The draw for the eight groups of four that will feature in the first round of the tournament will take place on 6 December in Bahia, Brazil.

Teams already qualified include Brazil (hosts), Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, England, Russia, Bosnia, Japan, Australia, Iran, South Korea, United States, Costa Rica, Honduras.