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2018 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA)
European Qualifiers.png
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.png Germany 2
Belgium.png Belgium 3
Netherlands.png Netherlands 5
Flag of Portugal.gif Portugal 7
Romania.png Romania 8
England.png England 9
Flag of Wales.gif Wales 10
Flag of Spain.png Spain 12
Croatia.png Croatia 14
Pot 2
Team Pos
Slovakia.png Slovakia 15
Flag of Austria.png Austria 15
Flag of Italy.gif Italy 17
Switzerland.png Switzerland 18
Flag of Czech.jpg Czech Republic 20
Flag of France.png France 22
Flag of Iceland.png Iceland 23
Flag of Denmark.gif Denmark 24
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.png Bosnia and Herzegovina 26
Pot 3
Team Pos
Flag of Ukraine.png Ukraine 27
Scotland.png Scotland 29
Flag of Poland.png Poland 30
Flag of Hungary.png Hungary 31
Flag of Sweden Good one.jpg Sweden 33
Flag of Albania.png Albania 36
Flag of Northern Ireland.jpg Northern Ireland 37
Flag of Serbia.png Serbia 43
Flag of Greece.svg.png Greece 44
Pot 4
Team Pos
Flag of Turkey.png Turkey 48
Flag of Slovenia.png Slovenia 49
Flag of Israel.png Israel 51
Flag of Republic Ireland.gif Republic of Ireland 52
Flag of Norway.png Norway 67
Flag of Bulgaria.png Bulgaria 68
Faroe Islands.png Faroe Islands 74
Flag of Montenegro.png Montenegro 81
Flag of Estonia.svg Estonia 82
Pot 5
Team Pos
Flag of Cyprus.png Cyprus 85
Latvia.png Latvia 87
Flag of Armenia.png Armenia 89
Flag of Finland.gif Finland 90
Belarus Flag.svg Belarus 100
Flag of Macedonia.png North Macedonia 105
Flag of Azerbaijan.png Azerbaijan 108
Flag of Lithuania.png Lithuania 110
Flag of Moldova.png Moldova 124
Pot 6
Team Pos
Flag of Kazakhstan.png Kazakhstan 142
Luxembourg.png Luxembourg 146
Liechtenstein.png Liechtenstein 147
Flag of Georgia.png Georgia 153
Malta.png Malta 158
San Marino.png San Marino 192
Flag of Andorra.png 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
Flag of France.png
France
Flag of Portugal.gif
Portugal
Germany.png
Germany
Flag of Serbia.png
Serbia
Flag of Poland.png
Poland
England.png
England
Flag of Spain.png
Spain
Belgium.png
Belgium
Flag of Iceland.png
Iceland
Flag of Sweden Good one.jpg
Sweden
Switzerland.png
Switzerland
Flag of Northern Ireland.jpg
Northern Ireland
Flag of Republic Ireland.gif
Republic of Ireland
Flag of Denmark.gif
Denmark
Slovakia.png
Slovakia
Scotland.png
Scotland
Flag of Slovenia.png
Slovenia
Flag of Lithuania.png
Lithuania
Malta.png
Malta
Flag of Italy.gif
Italy
Flag of Greece.svg.png
Greece
Croatia.png
Croatia
Netherlands.png
Netherlands
Flag of Bulgaria.png
Bulgaria
Luxembourg.png
Luxembourg
Belarus Flag.svg
Belarus
Flag of Hungary.png
Hungary
Faroe Islands.png
Faroe Islands
Latvia.png
Latvia
Flag of Andorra.png
Andorra
Flag of Czech.jpg
Czech Republic
Flag of Norway.png
Norway
Flag of Azerbaijan.png
Azerbaijan
San Marino.png
San Marino
Flag of Wales.gif
Wales
Flag of Austria.png
Austria
Flag of Georgia.png
Georgia
Flag of Moldova.png
Moldova
Flag of Montenegro.png
Montenegro
Romania.png
Romania
Flag of Armenia.png
Armenia
Flag of Kazakhstan.png
Kazakhstan
Flag of Albania.png
Albania
Flag of Israel.png
Israel
Flag of Macedonia.png
North Macedonia
Liechtenstein.png
Liechtenstein
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.png
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Flag of Estonia.svg
Estonia
Flag of Cyprus.png
Cyprus
Flag of Gibraltar.png
Gibraltar
Flag of Ukraine.png
Ukraine
Flag of Turkey.png
Turkey
Flag of Finland.gif
Finland
Flag of Kosovo.png
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
Flag of France.png France 7 5 1 1 15 5 +10 16 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
Flag of Sweden Good one.jpg Sweden 7 4 1 2 14 7 +7 13 Possible Second round
Flag of Bulgaria.png Bulgaria 7 4 0 3 12 14 −2 12
Netherlands.png Netherlands 7 3 1 3 13 10 +3 10
Belarus Flag.svg Belarus 7 1 2 4 4 12 −8 5
Luxembourg.png 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.png Switzerland 7 7 0 0 15 3 +12 21 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
Flag of Portugal.gif Portugal 7 6 0 1 27 4 +23 18 Possible Second round
Flag of Hungary.png Hungary 7 3 1 3 11 8 +3 10
Faroe Islands.png Faroe Islands (E) 7 1 2 4 3 15 −12 5
Flag of Andorra.png Andorra (E) 7 1 1 5 2 16 −14 4
Latvia.png 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.png Germany 6 6 0 0 27 1 +26 18 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
Flag of Northern Ireland.jpg Northern Ireland 6 4 1 1 11 2 +9 13 Possible Second round
Flag of Czech.jpg Czech Republic 6 2 3 1 9 5 +4 9
Flag of Azerbaijan.png Azerbaijan 6 2 1 3 3 9 −6 7
Flag of Norway.png Norway (Y) 6 1 1 4 6 10 −4 4
San Marino.png 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
Flag of Serbia.png Serbia 6 3 3 0 13 7 +6 12 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
Flag of Republic Ireland.gif Republic of Ireland 6 3 3 0 8 4 +4 12 Possible Second round
Flag of Wales.gif Wales 6 1 5 0 9 5 +4 8
Flag of Austria.png Austria 6 2 2 2 9 8 +1 8
Flag of Georgia.png Georgia 6 0 3 3 6 10 −4 3
Flag of Moldova.png 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
Flag of Poland.png Poland 6 5 1 0 15 7 +8 16 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
Flag of Montenegro.png Montenegro 6 3 1 2 14 7 +7 10 Possible Second round
Flag of Denmark.gif Denmark 6 3 1 2 10 6 +4 10
Romania.png Romania 6 1 3 2 7 7 0 6
Flag of Armenia.png Armenia 6 2 0 4 7 14 −7 6
Flag of Kazakhstan.png 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.png England 8 6 2 0 16 3 +13 20 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
Slovakia.png Slovakia 8 5 0 3 14 6 +8 15 Possible Second round
Flag of Slovenia.png Slovenia 8 4 2 2 10 4 +6 14
Scotland.png Scotland 8 4 2 2 14 10 +4 14
Flag of Lithuania.png Lithuania (E) 8 1 2 5 6 18 −12 5
Malta.png 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
Flag of Spain.png Spain 6 5 1 0 21 3 +18 16 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
Flag of Italy.gif Italy 6 5 1 0 18 4 +14 16 Possible Second round
Flag of Albania.png Albania 6 3 0 3 7 8 −1 9
Flag of Israel.png Israel 6 3 0 3 9 12 −3 9
Flag of Macedonia.png North Macedonia (E) 6 1 0 5 8 13 −5 3
Liechtenstein.png 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.png Belgium 6 5 1 0 24 2 +22 16 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
Flag of Greece.svg.png Greece 6 3 3 0 10 3 +7 12 Possible Second round
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.png Bosnia and Herzegovina 6 3 2 1 13 5 +8 11
Flag of Cyprus.png Cyprus 6 2 1 3 5 9 −4 7
Flag of Estonia.svg Estonia 6 1 1 4 5 17 −12 4
Flag of Gibraltar.png 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.png Croatia 6 4 1 1 11 2 +9 13 Qualification to 2018 FIFA World Cup
Flag of Iceland.png Iceland 6 4 1 1 9 6 +3 13 Possible Second round
Flag of Turkey.png Turkey 6 3 2 1 11 6 +5 11
Flag of Ukraine.png Ukraine 6 3 2 1 9 5 +4 11
Flag of Finland.gif Finland (E) 6 0 1 5 4 10 −6 1
Flag of Kosovo.png 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
Flag of Italy.gif Italy 3 2 1 0 7 4 +3 7 Advance to
second round
(play-offs)
Flag of Iceland.png Iceland 3 2 1 0 6 3 +3 7
Flag of Greece.svg.png Greece 2 2 0 0 4 0 +4 6
Flag of Sweden Good one.jpg Sweden 2 1 1 0 4 1 +3 4
Flag of Poland.png Poland 2 1 1 0 5 4 +1 4
Flag of Republic Ireland.gif Republic Ireland 2 1 1 0 3 2 +1 4
Flag of Azerbaijan.png Azerbaijan 2 1 1 0 1 0 +1 4
Flag of Portugal.gif Portugal 2 1 0 1 6 2 +4 3
Flag of Lithuania.png 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.png Switzerland (11)
Flag of Italy.gif Italy (15)
Croatia.png Croatia (18)
Flag of Denmark.gif Denmark (19)

Flag of Northern Ireland.jpg Northern Ireland (23)
Flag of Sweden Good one.jpg Sweden (25)
Flag of Republic Ireland.gif Republic of Ireland (26)
Flag of Greece.svg.png 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 Flag of Northern Ireland.jpg 0–1 Switzerland.png Switzerland 0–1 0–0
Croatia Croatia.png 4–1 Flag of Greece.svg.png Greece 4–1 0–0
Denmark Flag of Denmark.gif 5–1 Flag of Republic Ireland.gif Republic of Ireland 0–0 5–1
Sweden Flag of Sweden Good one.jpg 1–0 Flag of Italy.gif 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
Flag of Russia Good One.gif Russia Hosts 2 December 2010 10 (19582, 19622, 19662, 19702, 19822, 19862, 19902, 1994, 2002, 2014)
Flag of France.png France Group A winners 10 October 2017 14 (1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
Flag of Portugal.gif Portugal Group B winners 10 October 2017 6 (1966, 1986, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
Germany.png 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)
Flag of Serbia.png Serbia Group D winners 9 October 2017 11 (19304, 19504, 19544, 19584, 19624, 19744, 19824, 19904, 19984, 20064, 2010)
Flag of Poland.png Poland Group E winners 8 October 2017 7 (1938, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 2002, 2006)
England.png England Group F winners 5 October 2017 14 (1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
Flag of Spain.png Spain Group G winners 6 October 2017 14 (1934, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
Belgium.png Belgium Group H winners 3 September 2017 12 (1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2014)
Flag of Iceland.png Iceland Group I winners 9 October 2017 0 (debut)
Switzerland.png Switzerland Second round (play-off) winners 12 November 2017 10 (1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994, 2006, 2010, 2014)
Croatia.png Croatia Second round (play-off) winners 12 November 2017 4 (1998, 2002, 2006, 2014)
Flag of Sweden Good one.jpg Sweden Second round (play-off) winners 13 November 2017 11 (1934, 1938, 1950, 1958, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994, 2002, 2006)
Flag of Denmark.gif 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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