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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

2018 World Cup: Who has qualified for the finals and who can get there?

With 23 teams having qualified, there remain nine places to be clinched on the Road to Russia 2018.

The qualifying process for the 2018 World Cup, which began on March 12, 2015, is reaching its climax. 

So far, 23 nations have booked their place to join host nation Russia in next year's tournament.

Qualified nations: Russia (hosts), Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Honduras, Iceland, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Uruguay.

Who can still qualify and how:

Brazil, Russia set for pre-World Cup friendly in Moscow

Gabriel Jesus and Brazil ended Chile's World Cup hopes with a convincing 3-0 win in Sao Paulo.
Kyle Walker tweets a tribute to teammate Gabriel Jesus, a fan smuggles a pig into a match in Brazil and more in the Sweeper.
The FC crew examine the World Cup playoff draw in Europe and Italy's chances of qualifying for Russia.

Brazil will play Russia in March in a pre-World Cup friendly in Moscow.

The Brazilian soccer confederation says its Russian counterpart hasn't yet chosen a stadium for the March 23, 2018 match.

Brazil was the first team to qualify for the tournament in Russia. The five-time World Cup champions finished at the top of the CONMEBOL table and have yet to lose an official match under coach Tite, who took over last September.

Brazil will also play Japan, England and Germany in their preparations.

 By Ben Gladwell

Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco still hoping for Italy World Cup call-up

Sebastian Giovinco
Sebastian Giovinco has not played for Italy since Gian Piero Ventura was appointed.

Toronto forward Sebastian Giovinco says he has not yet given up hope of earning a recall to the Italy squad and has defended the competitiveness of Major League Soccer.

Giovinco has not been considered for selection by Gian Piero Ventura since he took over from Antonio Conte as Italy coach back in 2016. Conte had also stopped calling up the former Juventus forward, claiming that he was not being tested enough in North America.

Giovinco, who has scored 15 goals in 24 MLS appearances this season,...

Marco Fabian eyes World Cup place as back surgery recovery continues

Marco Fabian could be back for Frankfurt by the end of the year.

Marco Fabian has said he is "very happy" with his progress following back surgery and has not given up on his dream of playing at the World Cup.

Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Fabian, 28, underwent surgery in August after missing parts of the 2016-2017 season with lower back problems.

Having returned to Germany for the next phase of his rehab programme after 20 days in his native Mexico, Fabian told reporters he was hopeful of rejoining the Frankfurt squad before the end of the year.

"I'm doing...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Italy to play Sweden, Rep of Ireland to meet Denmark in World Cup playoff

The FC crew examine the World Cup playoff draw in Europe and Italy's chances of qualifying for Russia.
Martin O'Neill hopes his Ireland players remain injury free over the next few weeks ahead of their playoff versus Denmark.
With the playoff teams set in Europe, the FC crew assess which unseeded side has the best chance of reaching the World Cup.

Italy have been drawn against Sweden in the European playoffs for the 2018 World Cup, while the Republic of Ireland will meet Denmark.

Elsewhere in the draw for next summer's tournament in Russia, Northern Ireland will face Switzerland and Croatia will play Greece.

Italy finished second in their qualifying group behind Spain to reach the playoffs, with Sweden narrowly beating the Netherlands to a place in the draw. France topped that pool.

Italy, who have not missed a World Cup since 1958, had been...