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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

2018 World Cup qualifying - how it works

The qualifying process for the 2018 World Cup began on March 12, 2015 with preliminary ties between the 12 lowest-ranked nations in Asia.

Chiquito Do Carmo of Timor-Leste had the honour of scoring the very first goal on the road to Russia in a 4-1 victory at home to Mongolia.

There are 31 places up for grabs, joining hosts Russia.

Qualified nations: Brazil, Iran

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018 sees seven groups of six nations and two groups of...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

United States' goal to finish second or third in World Cup qualifying - Arena

U.S. coach Bruce Arena believes the competition for the first three spots in CONCACAF will go down to the last game.

United States head coach Bruce Arena says it's unlikely his side will catch Mexico atop the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table, and has circled the U.S.'s upcoming match with Costa Rica as "critically important" for their hopes of playing in Russia next summer.

Arena has led a U.S. turnaround in the table since taking over for Jurgen Klinsmann in November, defeating Trinidad & Tobago and drawing at Mexico to strengthen the country's World Cup bid.

The four points saw the U.S. rise to third in the...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

World Cup qualifying, one year out: Where things stand across the globe

Shaka Hislop reveals an international edition of his power rankings, listing the favourites to win the 2018 World Cup.

With one year to go until the World Cup kicks off, we asked writers from around the world to summarise the state of qualifying play in their region. 

• World Cup qualifying -- How it works

EUROPE: 13 World Cup places

• European qualifying home page

Who's on track to qualify?

Most of the major nations are on course, though Euro 2016 finalists Portugal and France may require second-place playoffs to make it. France's 2-1 loss in Sweden on Jun. 9, courtesy of a...