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2018 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA)
Tournament details
Dates4 September 2016 – 14 November 2017
Teams54 (from 1 confederation)
Tournament statistics
Matches played278
Goals scored807 (2.9 per match)
Attendance5,554,044 (19,979 per match)
Top scorer(s)Flag of Poland Robert Lewandowski (16 goals)
2014
2022

The European section of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification acted 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.

The qualifying format was confirmed by the UEFA Executive Committee meeting on 22–23 March 2015 in Vienna.

The qualification process started on 4 September 2016, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, and Spain qualified in the first round by winning their groups. Croatia, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland qualified via the second round play-offs.

Branding

UEFA unveiled the branding for the qualifiers on 15 April 2013. It shows a national jersey inside a heart, and represents Europe, honour and ambition. The same branding was also used for the European qualifiers for the UEFA Euro 2016.

Format

The qualification structure is as follows:

  • First round (group stage): The 52 teams will be divided into nine groups (seven groups of six teams and two groups of five teams) to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The winners of each group will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the eight best runners-up will advance to the second round (play-offs).
  • Second round (play-offs): The eight best runners-up from the first round will play home-and-away over two legs. The four winners will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

With the admission of Gibraltar and Kosovo as FIFA members in May 2016, both national teams were eligible to make their debuts in World Cup qualifying. With two groups of only five teams in the first round, Kosovo was assigned to group I as it was decided that Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia should not play against Kosovo for security reasons, and Gibraltar was then added to group H.

Entrants

Apart from Russia, which qualified automatically as hosts, all remaining 52 FIFA-affiliated national teams from UEFA at the registration deadline of January 2015 entered qualification.

Gibraltar, despite being a UEFA member since 2013, was not a FIFA member at the time of the registration deadline, and thus was not eligible to enter qualification for the FIFA World Cup. They appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to challenge FIFA's refusal to grant membership in order to enter World Cup qualifying. In May 2016, the CAS found in Gibraltar's favour and ordered that FIFA put Gibraltar forward for FIFA membership, which would permit Gibraltar to take part in the qualifiers if membership was granted.

Kosovo became a UEFA member on 3 May 2016, and together with Gibraltar, applied for membership in the FIFA Congress in 12–13 May 2016. FIFA confirmed that in the case both associations succeeded in becoming a member, they would be entitled to participate in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with UEFA tasked to integrate them into the competition.

On 13 May 2016, both Kosovo and Gibraltar were officially admitted as FIFA members, thus allowing them to compete. UEFA created a task force to discuss how to integrate the two teams into the competition, and on 9 June 2016 UEFA announced that Kosovo will be assigned to group I, to avoid meeting Bosnia and Herzegovina for security reasons, and Gibraltar will play in group H.

Schedule

Qualifying matches will start in September 2016, following UEFA Euro 2016, and finish in November 2017.

Round Matchday Date
First round
(Group stage)
Matchday 1 4–6 September 2016
Matchday 2 6–8 October 2016
Matchday 3 9–11 October 2016
Matchday 4 11–13 November 2016
Matchday 5 24–26 March 2017
Matchday 6 9–11 June 2017
Matchday 7 31 August – 2 September 2017
Matchday 8 3–5 September 2017
Matchday 9 5–7 October 2017
Matchday 10 8–10 October 2017
Round Matchday Date
Second round
(Play-offs)
First leg 9–11 November 2017
Second leg 12–14 November 2017

The scheduling of qualifying matches, which will be centralized by UEFA, will follow the "Week of Football" concept first used for UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying:

  • Matches take place from Thursday to Tuesday.
  • Kick-off times are largely set at 18:00 and 20:45 CET on Saturdays and Sundays, and 20:45 CET on Thursdays, Fridays, Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • On double-header matchweeks, teams play on Thursday and Sunday, or Friday and Monday, or Saturday and Tuesday.
  • Matches in the same group are played on the same day.

The fixture list was confirmed by UEFA on 26 July 2015, the day following the draw.

Additionally, the hosts Russia, while having already qualified automatically, were to be partnered with a five-team Group H, which would have enabled them to play friendlies against these countries on their spare dates (these friendlies would not have counted in the qualifying group standings). However, with the admission of Kosovo and Gibraltar, all groups were filled to contain six teams and the Russia friendlies against Group H teams were cancelled. UEFA vice-president Hryhoriy Surkis said that the UEFA management will be dealing with the issue of finding opponents for Russia to play friendlies.

First round

Seeding

The draw for the first round (group stage) was held as part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw on 25 July 2015, starting 18:00 MSK (UTC+3), at the Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna, Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The seeding was based on the FIFA World Rankings of July 2015. The 52 teams were seeded into six pots:

  • Pot 1 contains the teams ranked 1–9.
  • Pot 2 contains the teams ranked 10–18.
  • Pot 3 contains the teams ranked 19–27.
  • Pot 4 contains the teams ranked 28–36.
  • Pot 5 contains the teams ranked 37–45.
  • Pot 6 contains the teams ranked 46–52.

Each six-team group contains one team from each of the six pots, while each five-team group contains one team from each of the first five pots.

Due to the centralisation of media rights for European Qualifiers, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands were all drawn into six-team groups. Netherlands and France were drawn together in Group A, and Spain and Italy were drawn together in Group G.

In consideration of the delicate political situations of the relationships between Armenia and Azerbaijan, UEFA requested that FIFA maintain the current UEFA policy not to draw these teams into the same qualification groups (since the two teams were in the same seeding pot, this did not happen regardless of the request).

Teams were allocated to seeding pots as follows (July 2015 FIFA Rankings shown in brackets; the national teams which eventually qualified for the final tournament are presented in bold; the national teams who will take part in the play-offs are presented in italic).

Pot 1
Team Pos
 Germany 2
 Belgium 3
 Netherlands 5
 Portugal 7
 Romania 8
 England 9
 Wales 10
 Spain 12
 Croatia 14
Pot 2
Team Pos
 Slovakia 15
 Austria 15
 Italy 17
 Switzerland 18
 Czech Republic 20
 France 22
 Iceland 23
 Denmark 24
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 26
Pot 3
Team Pos
 Ukraine 27
 Scotland 29
 Poland 30
 Hungary 31
 Sweden 33
 Albania 36
 Northern Ireland 37
 Serbia 43
 Greece 44
Pot 4
Team Pos
 Turkey 48
 Slovenia 49
 Israel 51
 Republic of Ireland 52
 Norway 67
 Bulgaria 68
 Faroe Islands 74
 Montenegro 81
 Estonia 82
Pot 5
Team Pos
 Cyprus 85
 Latvia 87
 Armenia 89
 Finland 90
 Belarus 100
 North Macedonia 105
 Azerbaijan 108
 Lithuania 110
 Moldova 124
Pot 6
Team Pos
 Kazakhstan 142
 Luxembourg 146
 Liechtenstein 147
 Georgia 153
 Malta 158
 San Marino 192
 Andorra 202

FIFA recognised the football nations of Gibraltar and Kosovo after the draw, and on 9 June 2016 it was decided Gibraltar would join Group H, and Kosovo would join group I. In addition, it was decided that Kosovo not play against Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia for security reasons.

Summary

  Winner of each group qualified directly for the 2018 FIFA World Cup
  Other teams were eliminated after the first round
Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F Group G Group H Group I

France

Portugal

Germany

Serbia

Poland

England

Spain

Belgium

Iceland

Sweden

Switzerland

Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland

Denmark

Slovakia

Scotland

Slovenia

Lithuania

Malta

Italy

Greece

Croatia

Netherlands

Bulgaria

Luxembourg

Belarus

Hungary

Faroe Islands

Latvia

Andorra

Czech Republic

Norway

Azerbaijan

San Marino

Wales

Austria

Georgia

Moldova

Montenegro

Romania

Armenia

Kazakhstan

Albania

Israel

North Macedonia

Liechtenstein

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Estonia

Cyprus

Gibraltar

Ukraine

Turkey

Finland

Kosovo

Groups

2018 FIFA World Cup qualification tiebreakers
In home-and-away league format, the ranking of teams in each group is based on the following criteria (regulations Articles 20.6 and 20.7):
  1. Points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss)
  2. Goal difference
  3. Goals scored
  4. Points in matches between tied teams
  5. Goal difference in matches between tied teams
  6. Goals scored in matches between tied teams
  7. Away goals scored in matches between tied teams (if the tie is only between two teams)
  8. Play-off match(es) on neutral ground (if approved by FIFA Organizing Committee), with extra time and penalty shoot-out if necessary

Group A

Main article: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group A
Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Notes
 France 7 5 1 1 15 5 +10 16 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
 Sweden 7 4 1 2 14 7 +7 13 Possible Second round
 Bulgaria 7 4 0 3 12 14 −2 12
 Netherlands 7 3 1 3 13 10 +3 10
 Belarus 7 1 2 4 4 12 −8 5
 Luxembourg (E) 7 1 1 5 7 17 −10 4

Group B

Main article: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group B
Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Notes
 Switzerland 7 7 0 0 15 3 +12 21 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
 Portugal 7 6 0 1 27 4 +23 18 Possible Second round
 Hungary 7 3 1 3 11 8 +3 10
 Faroe Islands (E) 7 1 2 4 3 15 −12 5
 Andorra (E) 7 1 1 5 2 16 −14 4
 Latvia (E) 7 1 0 6 3 15 −12 3

Group C

Main article: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group C
Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Notes
 Germany 6 6 0 0 27 1 +26 18 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
 Northern Ireland 6 4 1 1 11 2 +9 13 Possible Second round
 Czech Republic 6 2 3 1 9 5 +4 9
 Azerbaijan 6 2 1 3 3 9 −6 7
 Norway (Y) 6 1 1 4 6 10 −4 4
 San Marino (E) 6 0 0 6 1 30 −29 0

Group D

Main article: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group D
Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Notes
 Serbia 6 3 3 0 13 7 +6 12 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
 Republic of Ireland 6 3 3 0 8 4 +4 12 Possible Second round
 Wales 6 1 5 0 9 5 +4 8
 Austria 6 2 2 2 9 8 +1 8
 Georgia 6 0 3 3 6 10 −4 3
 Moldova 6 0 2 4 4 15 −11 2

Group E

Main article: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group E
Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Notes
 Poland 6 5 1 0 15 7 +8 16 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
 Montenegro 6 3 1 2 14 7 +7 10 Possible Second round
 Denmark 6 3 1 2 10 6 +4 10
 Romania 6 1 3 2 7 7 0 6
 Armenia 6 2 0 4 7 14 −7 6
 Kazakhstan (Y) 6 0 2 4 4 16 −12 2

Group F

Main article: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group F
Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Notes
 England 8 6 2 0 16 3 +13 20 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
 Slovakia 8 5 0 3 14 6 +8 15 Possible Second round
 Slovenia 8 4 2 2 10 4 +6 14
 Scotland 8 4 2 2 14 10 +4 14
 Lithuania (E) 8 1 2 5 6 18 −12 5
 Malta (E) 8 0 0 8 2 21 −19 0

Group G

Main article: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group G
Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Notes
 Spain 6 5 1 0 21 3 +18 16 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
 Italy 6 5 1 0 18 4 +14 16 Possible Second round
 Albania 6 3 0 3 7 8 −1 9
 Israel 6 3 0 3 9 12 −3 9
 North Macedonia (E) 6 1 0 5 8 13 −5 3
 Liechtenstein (E) 6 0 0 6 1 24 −23 0

Group H

Main article: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group H
Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Notes
 Belgium 6 5 1 0 24 2 +22 16 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
 Greece 6 3 3 0 10 3 +7 12 Possible Second round
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 6 3 2 1 13 5 +8 11
 Cyprus 6 2 1 3 5 9 −4 7
 Estonia 6 1 1 4 5 17 −12 4
 Gibraltar (Y) 6 0 0 6 3 24 −21 0

Group I

Main article: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group I
Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Notes
 Croatia 6 4 1 1 11 2 +9 13 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
 Iceland 6 4 1 1 9 6 +3 13 Possible Second round
 Turkey 6 3 2 1 11 6 +5 11
 Ukraine 6 3 2 1 9 5 +4 11
 Finland (E) 6 0 1 5 4 10 −6 1
 Kosovo (E) 6 0 1 5 3 18 −15 1

Ranking of second-placed teams

At the time of the draw two groups had one team fewer than the other groups, so it was announced that matches against the last-placed team in each of the six-team groups would not be included in this ranking. As a result, eight matches played by each team would be counted for the purposes of the second-placed table. However, after the admission of Kosovo and Gibraltar all groups now contain six teams and it is not known if matches against all teams will be counted.

The eight best runners-ups determined by the following parameters in this order:

  1. Highest number of points
  2. Goal difference
  3. Highest number of goals scored
Team Pld
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
Notes
 Italy 3 2 1 0 7 4 +3 7 Advance to
second round
(play-offs)
 Iceland 3 2 1 0 6 3 +3 7
 Greece 2 2 0 0 4 0 +4 6
 Sweden 2 1 1 0 4 1 +3 4
 Poland 2 1 1 0 5 4 +1 4
 Republic Ireland 2 1 1 0 3 2 +1 4
 Azerbaijan 2 1 1 0 1 0 +1 4
 Portugal 2 1 0 1 6 2 +4 3
 Lithuania 2 0 2 0 3 3 0 2

Second round

Main article: 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Second Round

The eight best group runners-up will contest the second round, where they were paired into four two-legged (home-and-away) fixtures.

Seeding and draw

The draw for the second round (play-offs) was held on 17 October 2017. The eight teams were seeded by FIFA World Rankings published on 16 October 2017, rather than qualifying record, with the top four teams in Pot 1, and the remaining four teams in Pot 2. Teams from Pot 1 play teams from Pot 2 on a home and away basis, with the order of legs decided by draw.

Pot 1 Pot 2

 Switzerland (11)
 Italy (15)
 Croatia (18)
 Denmark (19)

 Northern Ireland (23)
 Sweden (25)
 Republic of Ireland (26)
 Greece (47)

Matches

The first legs will be played on 9–11 November, and the second legs will be played on 12–14 November 2017. The winners of each tie will qualify for the World Cup.

Team #1   Agg.   Team #2   1st leg     2nd leg  
Northern Ireland  0–1  Switzerland 0–1 0–0
Croatia  4–1  Greece 4–1 0–0
Denmark  5–1  Republic of Ireland 0–0 5–1
Sweden  1–0  Italy 1–0 0–0

Qualified teams

The following teams from UEFA have qualified for the final tournament.

Team Qualified as Qualified on Previous appearances in tournament1
 Russia Hosts 2 December 2010 10 (19582, 19622, 19662, 19702, 19822, 19862, 19902, 1994, 2002, 2014)
 France Group A winners 10 October 2017 14 (1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
 Portugal Group B winners 10 October 2017 6 (1966, 1986, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
 Germany Group C winners 5 October 2017 18 (1934, 1938, 19543, 19583, 19623, 19663, 19703, 19743, 19783, 19823, 19863, 19903,
1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
 Serbia Group D winners 9 October 2017 11 (19304, 19504, 19544, 19584, 19624, 19744, 19824, 19904, 19984, 20064, 2010)
 Poland Group E winners 8 October 2017 7 (1938, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 2002, 2006)
 England Group F winners 5 October 2017 14 (1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
 Spain Group G winners 6 October 2017 14 (1934, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
 Belgium Group H winners 3 September 2017 12 (1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2014)
 Iceland Group I winners 9 October 2017 0 (debut)
 Switzerland Second round (play-off) winners 12 November 2017 10 (1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994, 2006, 2010, 2014)
 Croatia Second round (play-off) winners 12 November 2017 4 (1998, 2002, 2006, 2014)
 Sweden Second round (play-off) winners 13 November 2017 11 (1934, 1938, 1950, 1958, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994, 2002, 2006)
 Denmark Second round (play-off) winners 14 November 2017 4 (1986, 1998, 2002, 2010)
1 Bold indicates champions for that year. Italic indicates hosts for that year.
2 Competed as Soviet Union.
3 Competed as West Germany. A separate team for East Germany also participated in qualifications during this time, having only competed in 1974.
4 From 1930 to 2006, Serbia competed as Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro.

External links

2018 FIFA World Cup qualification
AFC
First Round · Second Round · Third Round · Fourth Round (play-off for 5th place)
CAF
First Round · Second Round · Third Round
CONCACAF
First Round · Second Round · Third Round · Fourth Round · Fifth Round
CONMEBOL
Round Robin
OFC
First Round · Second Round (Nations Cup) · Third Round
UEFA
First Round · Group A · Group B · Group C · Group D · Group E · Group F · Group G · Group H · Group I · Second Round (play-offs)
Play-offs
CONCACAF v AFC · OFC v CONMEBOL
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