e now know the names of the 32 countries who have qualified for the 2018 World Cup, which will be held in Russia. There are many big names involved, as well as some smaller countries who have qualified at the expense of some familiar names. Here is a list of the teams you will be seeing at Russia 2018.
Russia have qualified as hosts of the tournament and they will be hoping that the home crowd can push them on to reach the last 16 as a minimum. Joining Russia are 13 other teams from Europe, starting with Belgium who qualified thanks to winning Group H comfortably. They didn’t lose a game during qualifying and only conceded six goals so will arrive in Russia full of confidence. This is a golden age for Belgium football and anything less than the quarter finals would be a disappointment.
England were another team to win their group with ease, winning Group F by eight points. They have disappointed for a long time on the world stage and after being sent home by Iceland at Euro 2016, it is hard to imagine they can find a way past the quarter final stage, with the last 16 looking a more realistic target. France had to overcome a tough looking group that included the Netherlands and Sweden, but came through losing just one game and are a team full of quality. Anything less than a quarter final appearance would be a huge disappointment and the French are one of many teams who could realistically lift the trophy, in what looks to be a wide open year.
Germany were handed an easy qualifying group and made no mistakes, winning ten out of ten to qualify with ease. They are currently going through a transitional stage where they are bringing young players into the team and if these players perform well, Germany have a great chance of winning and will be targeting the semi-finals at least. Spain went unbeaten in the qualifying stages, winning nine of their ten games to beat Italy to the top spot in their group. With recent success in the competition many will be looking at Spain as potential winners, although being placed in Pot 2 means they could find themselves with a tough draw. They can get out of the group stages, and will be aiming to reach the quarter finals at least in 2018.
Joining those six teams in Russia will be Croatia, Denmark, Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland.
The two South American giants Brazil and Argentina both qualified in very different circumstances, but importantly both will be playing at Russia 2018. Brazil qualified with ease, losing just one of their 18 qualification games and conceding just 11 goals. They won the group by 10 points and will head to Russia as favorites, with the semi-final stage being their minimum requirement from the competition. As well as playing some great football, Brazil are very effective and know how to win, they can go very far as well as entertaining the world.
Argentina only qualified on the final day of games after they dropped some very poor points throughout qualifying. They won just seven games out of 18 and will have to turn up in much better form if they are to challenge. They are likely to though, they are full of talent and on their day they can beat anyone in the world. Expect to see them reaching the semi-final stages at least, and an all-South American final between Argentina and Brazil would not be a huge surprise.
If you are looking for an outsider from South America then Uruguay could be the ones, they qualified second in the group, behind Brazil but ahead of Argentina. They have plenty of attacking talent as we saw in qualifying when they scored an impressive 32 goals. Being in pot 2 puts them in with a chance of at least making the last 16 but seeing them in the quarter finals would not be a surprise.
Joining the big two from South America will be Colombia and Peru.
Of the five qualifiers from Africa, Nigeria head into the World Cup with the best qualifying record, going unbeaten to win Group B by six points. They didn’t lose a game, and only conceded four goals in a group containing Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia. That form is good, and none of the big teams will fancy taking on Nigeria in the group stages. Getting out of the group is what Nigeria will be aiming for and with a nice draw they have every chance.
Egypt are another team many would like to avoid when the draw for the World Cup takes place, they came through a group involving Ghana, Congo and Uganda to qualify. Just like Nigeria, and any other of the African qualifiers, their goal will be to qualify from the group stages, with anything else being a bonus. Just like Nigeria, Egypt have a chance and a favourable draw will increase their chance of making the last 16.
Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia round off the qualifiers from Africa for the 2018 World Cup.
Iran ran away with Group A of the Asian qualifying round, going unbeaten through their 10 games and eventually winning the group by seven points. The other remarkable stat is that they conceded just two goals and they head to Russia as the one team from Asia that the big guns will want to avoid. They may not have any recognisable names, or the reputation of Japan or South Korea but watch out for Iran challenging to qualify from their group.
Japan won Group B of the Asian qualifying, although it was very close and they won the group by one point, beating off Saudi Arabia and Australia. They too will be a team like Iran that teams will want to avoid, but don’t look to have the same quality and qualifying from the group is going to be a very difficult task for them.
The other qualifiers from Asia are Australia, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
North & Central American & Caribbean
Mexico claimed top spot on this section winning the qualifying group by five points ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. Big names Honduras and the USA failed to qualify this time around, much to the surprise of many people. Mexico are a dangerous team and being placed in Pot 2 for the draw gives them a great chance of qualifying from the group, which is something they will be targeting as a minimum. With a favorable draw and confidence in the camp, there is no reason to see why Mexico can’t make the quarter final stages in Russia.
Qualifying alongside Mexico are Panama and Costa Rica.