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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.

  

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

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

Russia...

Argentina v Chile: Preview

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Lionel Messi and his teammates announced they will no longer speak with the press going forward following their win over Colombia.


Argentina head into Thursday's World Cup qualifier against Chile in Buenos Aires with their hopes of reaching the finals in Russia next year in doubt.

Four games without a win - including consecutive losses to Paraguay and Brazil - have left Edgardo Bauza's side out of the top four automatic qualifying places.

In contrast they will come up against a Chile side glowing with confidence after their 3-1 win over second-placed Uruguay in their last qualifying game in November.

Argentina's players have...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Roberto Firmino 'prepared' to replace Gabriel Jesus as Brazil's No. 9

Uruguay's head coach Oscar Tabarez and defender Sebastian Coates admit to being worried about Brazil's Neymar.

Roberto Firmino insists he's ready to replace Gabriel Jesus for Brazil's upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay.

Brazil lead CONMEBOL qualifying with 27 points and will face second-placed Uruguay in Montevideo on Thursday, but will do so without starting striker Gabriel Jesus, who broke his foot in Manchester City's match with Bournemouth last month.

Firmino has been a key figure at Liverpool this season and has been a regular call-up by Brazil boss Tite, though he been reduced...

Uruguay v Brazil: Preview

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Brazil midfielder Casemiro has acknowledged the absence of Luis Suarez could have a major impact on his side's World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in Montevideo on Thursday.

Uruguay striker Suarez is suspended for the clash between the top two teams in the South American standings while in another blow for veteran coach Oscar Tabarez, Turkey-based goalkeeper Fernando Muslera is also missing.

Brazil go into the game with their spot in Russia next year already virtually sealed as they hold a four-point...

From crisis to cruise control: Tite has Brazil on course for 2018 World Cup

Tite, in white, has worked wonders in reviving Brazil's World Cup qualification campaign.

Nine months ago, a trip to the Estádio Centenário in Montevideo was hardly something the Brazilian Football Confederation would relish. At that point in World Cup qualifying, many believed the Selecao would be concerned about their prospects given their abysmal start on the road to Russia: as things stood at the time, they were outside the playoff zone and risked missing out.

Uruguay away still is a tough gig, mind you, despite the absence of the suspended Luis Suarez. But the weight on Brazil's...