Swiss and Belgians shake up World Cup seedings
October 17, 2013 -- Updated 1209 GMT (2009 HKT)
Ottmar Hitzfeld led Switzerland through their World Cup qualification campaign unbeaten
- Switzerland are among eight seeded teams for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil
- Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium and Switzerland all seeded
- Uruguay could be usurped by Netherlands if they lose World Cup playoff to Jordan
- Italy and England both miss out on seedings, Portugal and France in playoffs
(CNN) -- Switzerland and Belgium will shake up the seedings ahead of next year's FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil.
The appearance of those two countries in the top bracket of seeds means it is possible that hosts Brazil could be drawn in a group with Italy, or Argentina with Netherlands.
Ottmar Hitzfeld, who on Thursday announced he'll be stepping down after the tournament, led the Swiss through their qualifying campaign unbeaten.
Switzerland won seven of their group matches, drawing the other three and have leaped seven places up the official FIFA rankings to seventh. Belgium were also unbeaten in qualifying, finishing nine points of second place Croatia.
Read: Can World Cup unite Bosnia?
The population of Switzerland and Belgium (7.9 million and 11.1 million respectively) is dwarfed by many of the other nations, with the exception of Uruguay (3.3 million).
From civil war to the football pitch
Fighting racism in football
The business behind the World Cup
Hosts Brazil and defending champions Spain, along with Germany, Argentina and Colombia are all seeded while England and Italy, both unbeaten in qualifying, narrowly miss out.
Uruguay will be seeded should they win their two-legged qualification playoff with Jordan, but if they miss out then Netherlands -- who won nine of their ten group matches -- will take their place.
The draw for the finals will be held in Bahia in Brazil on December 6, by which time the results of the playoffs in various territories will be known.
France go into the European playoffs unseeded due to their current ranking of 21 which means they could face Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the two-legged tie.
As well as Portugal, Greece, Croatia and Ukraine are seeded while Iceland, Sweden and Romania are not. The draw for the playoffs will be conducted on October 21 with the matches played on November 15 and 19.
Hitzfeld said his decision to relinquish his role as Switzerland coach after the World Cup was the "most difficult decision of my coaching career."
The 64-year-old, who has held the post since 2008, led the Swiss to a famous 1-0 win over world and European champions Spain at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
"The association's management, with the players and the staff is absolutely ordered for the best, so this is the most difficult decision of my coaching career," Hitzfeld said on the Swiss Football Association's official website.
General Secretary Alex Miescher added: "Ottmar Hitzfeld is a gentleman from head to toe, and leaves us plenty of time (to find a successor)."
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is provoking huge media interest and the hungry attention of Europe's top clubs.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.