2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifier is in its last stage. Only one match day left to play and only 13 berths have been taken. Nigeria, Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, England, Germany, Russia, Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil have qualified so far.
Qualifier competition is intense in Africa, South America and Europe. Only Asia region has fulfilled their four direct qualification slot. Iran, Japan, Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia occupied the four slots, while Australia and Syria vying for the play-off berth.
European Qualifier allows thirteen teams to qualify for World Cup finals, but only five berths have been taken now. Out of which, Russia has qualified directly as host nation. It means only Belgium, England, Germany and Spain have qualified so far from competitive point of view. Eight berths are still open, and four of them will be their group leader.
FIFA World Cup Russia 2018’s European Qualifiers fight is still on
European Qualifier format includes round 1 and round 2. In round 1, fifty-four teams fight for 13 berths. At the end of match day 10, nine group leaders will directly qualify, and eight of the runners-up will fight for the four berths left.
Group A leader is still to be finalized as France and Sweden, both vying for the top slot. Only one point differentiates them (France 20 points, Sweden 19 points) and the group leader will be decided on final match day. France victory over Belarus will earn them top berth, and Sweden will have to go through round 2. Sweden can’t take their play-off berth guaranteed against Netherlands on final match day, because Oranges can earn their berth with a 7-0 victory.
Group B’s leader is also not finalized. Switzerland do lead with 27 points, but Portugal is only three points (24 points) behind. And on final day, both teams will be up against each other. Portugal victory will take them to World Cup finals on goal difference; otherwise they’ll have to go through play-off in round 2.
Group C is the only group with Group G, who has finalized their group leader and runners-up. Germany – the defending champions have earned their berth and Northern Ireland is ready to compete in play-off. Group D is little complicated as Serbia, Wales and Rebuplic of Ireland vying for the top slot. Serbia victory over Georgia will earn them FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 berth, meanwhile Wales and Republic of Ireland will fight against each other for play-off berth on final match day.
Poland lead the Group E, but they need a victory or a draw against Montenegro for direct qualification to Russia 2018. Robert Lewandowski’s Poland negative result against Montenegro can earn Denmark the direct qualification if they earn a victory against Romania.
England is Group F winner and Scotland chances are rare in top eight runners-up with 17 points for play-off berth. Spain leads Group G and runners-up Italy will compete in play-off for their qualification in Russia 2018. Belgium leads Group H and Greece as runners-up will have to earn more points on final match day to compete in play-off. Iceland leads Group I, but it’s not done. They need a victory against Kosovo on final match day, otherwise winner of the Ukraine vs Croatia will earn direct qualification.
South American qualification is still complicated with only one match day left. Brazil is the first and only team to qualify from the region. Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Paraguay is still fighting for the four berths left. Chances are Lionel Messi’s Argentina miss out the competition, and it will be a huge blow.
Africa only findS their leader in Nigeria till now as Group B leader. Tunisia and Congo DR is fighting for Group A leader position, Morocco and Cote D’Ivoire is fighting from Group C, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde Islands fighting from Group D, and Egypt in pole position from Group E. Although, Uganda and Ghana can also prove their stalwart to lead the Group E.
North, Central America and Caribbean offer three and half berth. Mexico and Costa Rica reaches for the showpiece, whereas USA, Panama and Honduras are still fighting for one and half berth. Oceania confederation offers half a berth which New Zealand occupies, but they’ll have to compete against strong South American play-off berth holder for Russia 2018.
Eighteen slots are still vacant and only match day to decide, before going into play-off. The nature of competitiveness leaves some good teams on edge and some renowned players misses out from the World Cup. FIFA 2014 World Cup Brazil witnesses Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden sitting out of the tournament, and this time we have Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Alexis Sanchez, Luka Modric, and Robert Lewandowski to name a few who may miss the showpiece in Russia 2018.