2018 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA)
The European section of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification will act as qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, to be held in Russia, for national teams which are members of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Apart from Russia, which qualify automatically as hosts, a total of 13 slots in the final tournament are available for UEFA teams.
54 teams are fighting to get a ticket to go to Russia in the qualification tournament which last from 4th of September 2016 till 14th of November 2017. The teams have been divided into 6 pots, based on how high they are ranked in the FIFA World Rankings of July 2015 (9 teams in each pot) and they have been drawn into 9 qualification groups (each group has 6 teams). First place of each group qualifies to the final tournament together with the best team ranked 2nd (the one who has the biggest number of points), while the remaining 2nd places will have to play play-off to get a ticket to Russia in 2018.
Group A is composed by the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg and it looks like this group is divided in 2: the teams that will fight for the first 2 places (Netherlands, France and Sweden) and the other teams which are the outsiders. While Netherlands and France give one of the derbies of the qualification tournament, Sweden will play their first match without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Swedish star who retired from the national team after Euro2016.
Group B is the group in which the European champion Portugal will be facing the national teams of Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia and Andorra. While the team of international star Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be taking the 1st place in this group, Switzerland and Hungary will fight against each other for the 2nd place which ensures them about playing the play-off.
On the paper, Group C is one not that open to surprises since Germany is definitely the favorite for the 1st place, Czech Republic for the 2nd, while Nothern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino can not lay claims for a better placement than the 3rd place.
Running counter to Group C, Group D is the most unpredictable of this qualifying stage as 4 of the teams are fighting for the first 2 places. Wales, Austria, Serbia and Republic of Ireland, all start with big hopes this group while Moldova and Georgia could anytime throw obstacles in their ways.
Group E has a situation quite similar to Group D. Here, Romania, Denmark, Poland and Montenegro want to play in Russia in 2018 and will give an exciting battle for the only 2 places which can keep alive their desire. The other teams of the group are Armenia, which looks able to make some surprises here, and Kazakhstan.
Group F is composed by the 1966 WC champion England, their Brittish brothers Scotland, the sisters countries Slovakia and Slovenia, together with Lithuania and Malta. England is the favorite for the 1st place while any of the other teams excepting Malta can hope for the 2nd place.
The football fans of Albania, Israel, Macedonia and Liechtenstein have a nightmare everytime they look at the Group G, a group composed by these countries together with Spain and Italy. It’s undoubtedly that the first 2 place are taken. Still, will be interesting to see who will get the direct qualification between these 2 teams.
The group H is leading by Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The national team of Greece, which is present here, is looking to make lost the way they played in the qualification of Euro 2016 but is hard to believe that they can do some damage here. Maybe fewer chances than Greece have the other memebers of this group: Estonia, Cyprus and Gibraltar.
Group I is made by the still awaited revelation team on Croatia, the surprising team of Iceland, together with 2 teams that are looking forward to find their best form again, after unexpectedly bad performanced in Euro 2016: Ukraine and Turkey. All these 4 teams can qualify, while every point lost to Finland and Kosovo can be fatal.
The odds on 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA) is in the menu to the left.