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Ronaldo focused on qualification, not prizes

World Cup reaction
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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.

The draw for the main sections of qualifying takes place on Saturday, July 25, 2015.

EUROPE: 13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018...

ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Italy miss out on World Cup qualifying seeding after Portugal defeat

Italy head coach Antonio Conte believes the Azzurri's 1-0 friendly loss to Portugal will provide an important learning curve.

Italy face the prospect of a difficult World Cup qualifying draw after they lost to Portugal 1-0 in an international friendly on Tuesday.

Antonio Conte's Italy went into the game in Geneva in the knowledge that nothing less than a victory would give them the Ranking points they required to climb above Croatia and be seeded in pot 1 for the draw in St Petersburg on July 25.

But Portugal, who were without the rested Cristiano Ronaldo, needed only one goal from Eder in the 52nd minute to help...

ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Italy face must-win game against Portugal for World Cup seeding

Italy face Portugal in an international friendly on Tuesday evening which could have huge implications on their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Antonio Conte's Italy currently find themselves outside the top nine of European nations in the next FIFA Ranking, which will be published on July 9. It means they face being unseeded the World Cup qualifying draw in St Petersburg on July 25.

Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Romania, England, Wales, Portugal and Spain are all assured of being...

ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Wales and Romania seeded in World Cup qualifying draw

Relive all the best moments of Matchday 6 in the 2016 European Qualifies including Gareth Bale's game-winning strike, and Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick.
Gareth Bale takes advantage of an awful mistake in the back made by Radja Nainggolan to see his side earn three points that takes them to the top of Group B in European Championship Qualifying.

Gareth Bale's winning goal against Belgium on Friday fired Wales to the brink of qualification for Euro 2016 -- and guaranteed Chris Coleman's side a place among the seeds in next month's World Cup qualifying draw.

Wales will not be the only surprise name with Romania also appearing in the top pot as one of the nine top-rated European nations in FIFA's World Ranking.

It is a remarkable rise for two nations who have seldom qualified for a place at football's top table. While Romania, who knew they...

ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Italy could be unseeded in World Cup qualifying, chance for Wales

UEFA president Michel Platini handed French president Francois Hollande the first ticket for Euro 2016 exactly one year away from the competition.

Italy face a huge Euro 2016 qualifier in Croatia on Friday night and the game could have massive implications on their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup next summer.

The two nations meet in Split holding the two automatic qualification places in Group H, while Italy have a two-point advantage over third-placed Norway, who host Azerbaijan.

But if Italy lose the game they are almost certain to miss out on being one of the top seeds in next month's UEFA World Cup qualifying draw, meaning they could...