Northern Ireland to face World champions Germany

The World Cup trophy is displayed during the preliminary draw for the 2018 finals

The World Cup trophy is displayed during the preliminary draw for the 2018 finals

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Northern Irleand have been drawn along with reigning champions Germany for the World Cup qualifiers which will be staged in Russia in 2018.

Michael O’Neill’s side will also take on the Czech Republic, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino in Group C.

The Republic of Ireland were drawn in Group D along with Wales, Serbia, Austria, Moldova and Georgia, while England and Scotland were drawn in Group F.

The top team from each group will qualify for the finals in Russia with the eight best second-placed teams going into the play-offs.

Northern Ireland were in Pot Three for Saturday’s draw in St Petersburg and they had avoided Europe’s top sides until Germany completed the group.

Germany will be firm favourites to top the group following their World Cup triumph in Brazil last year.

Northern Ireland could be battling for the play-off spot along with the Czech Republic and Norway.