With the 2018 World Cup in our sights excitement is growing by the day among football fans, pundits and players alike. This summer’s tournament will be the 21st rendition of this wonderful footballing party.
The World Cup is a spectacle like no other, with an amazing party-like atmosphere enjoyed by spectators from around the world.
The host country this time round is Russia, the tournament kicks off on the 14th June and the last ball will be kicked on the 15th July – a full month of a footballing bonanza. We just hope you’re as excited as us!
World Cup Qualifiers 2018 Fixtures
There will be 32 teams competing in Russia with representation from across the globe. The qualification campaign began way back in March of 2015 and ended in November of last year.
A whopping 210 teams were involved in qualifying and fixtures were contested in six confederations, with each representing different geographical locations. They were:
- Confederation of African Football (CAF)
- Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
- South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL)
- Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)
- Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)
- Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)
World Cup Qualifiers 2018 Results
The results of the qualifiers were, on the whole, not hugely surprising, but there were still a few pretty big surprises among the normality. Here is a break-down of what happened.
It was somewhat surprising that Ghana and Ivory Coast didn’t qualify from this confederation, considering their strong performances of recent years. The final phase of qualifying included five groups with four teams in each. The following countries topped their groups and will be going to Russia:
- Group A winners, Tunisia
- Group B winners, Nigeria
- Group C winners, Morocco
- Group D winners, Senegal
- Group E winners, Egypt
In the Asian federation, Syria performed remarkably well considering the trouble the war-torn country is enduring. They finished third in Group A of the final phase of qualifying and went up against Australia, the third-placed team from Group B, in a play-off.
Australia won the match 3-2 over two legs. Australia then went on to defeat Honduras in a second play-off 3-1 to book their place in Russia.
The other teams who qualified for the World Cup from the AFC confederation were:
- Iran, who topped Group A
- South Korea, who finished second in Group A
- Japan, Group B winners
- Saudi Arabia, Group B runners-up
The South American qualifying phase is always a highly entertaining one packed with action and drama. This qualification campaign was no different:
- Brazil comfortably qualified in first place
- Uruguay performed extremely well to qualify in second place
- Argentina were in danger of not qualifying but ended up qualifying in third
- Colombia went through in fourth place, one point behind Argentina
- Peru took the fifth spot and defeated New Zealand in a cross-confederation play-off to book their place in Russia
The big surprise here was the poor showing of the United States who finished in a lowly fifth out of six teams in the final phase qualifying group. The teams who made it through were:
- First-placed Mexico
- Costa Rica in second
- Panama in third, who have qualified for their first ever World Cup
Honduras finished fourth and faced Australia in the play-off pointed out above, losing the game 3-1.
The UEFA qualifying campaign threw up a few surprises. The Netherlands, who finished as World Cup runners-up on three occasions, did not make the cut. Nor did four-time winners Italy, who were surprisingly beaten by Sweden over two legs in a play-off decider, 1-0.
Iceland, however, will compete in their first ever World Cup as they look to build on Euro 2016’s hugely impressive performance. The teams who qualified as group winners in the UEFA confederation were:
- Group A winners, France
- Group B winners, Portugal
- Group C winners, Germany
- Group D winners, Serbia
- Group E winners, Poland
- Group F winners, England
- Group G winners, Spain
- Group H winners, Belgium
- Group I winners, Iceland
The eight top-performing group runners-up went through to the play-offs, where four deciding matches took place, and the winner in each match qualified. The victorious teams were:
World Cup Qualifiers Standings In FIFA Rankings
Truthfully, the FIFA rankings can be a little misleading, but let’s take a quick glance at what the rankings show us and see if they reveal any additional information.
Germany and Brazil occupy first and second place, which generally mirrors what the bookmakers are suggesting. Switzerland and Poland sit in sixth and tenth place respectively, which is obviously a rather false portrayal of the reality.
What’s more, Chile are in ninth place and they haven’t even qualified for this year’s World Cup. Belgium in third and Portugal in fourth are similarly rather highly placed, though perhaps Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph warrants this ranking.
Argentina are in fifth place, France in seventh and Spain in eighth. In reality, Spain are a bigger danger than Argentina.
Without wishing to sound like a broken record, we cannot wait for the action to commence! We hope this snappy summary has refreshed your memory and stirred up your excitement, and perhaps even brushed up those areas you weren’t totally sure about. The time is nearly here ladies and gentlemen.