European Qualifiers for World Cup: who can qualify?

Belgium could become the first team from Europe to join hosts Russia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Sunday: we explain the permutations for the groups with three rounds of matches remaining.

Correct after games played on 31 August

Which European teams have qualified?

Russia (hosts)

Who can still qualify automatically?

Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, England, France, Georgia, Germany (holders)*, Greece, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Israel, Italy, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal*, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland*, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales

*Will finish in top two of group

Who can still make the play-offs?

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Norway

Who is out of contention?

Andorra, Faroe Islands, Finland, FYR Macedonia, Gibraltar, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, San Marino

Who has qualified from outside Europe?

Brazil, Iran, Japan

Group by group permutations …



18:00CET: Netherlands (10 points) v Bulgaria (12), Belarus (5) v Sweden (13)
20:45CET: France (16) v Luxembourg (4)

  • France will clinch top two finish if they win, Sweden do not win and Netherlands beat Bulgaria (as Sweden and the Netherlands have to play each other so can’t both win all their games).
  • The Netherlands will be unable to win the group if they pick up fewer points than France on Sunday.


18:00CET: Faroe Islands (5) v Andorra (4)
20:45CET: Hungary (10) v Portugal (18), Latvia (3) v Switzerland (21)

  • Switzerland, with seven perfect wins, are assured of a top-two finish but cannot qualify on Sunday.
  • Portugal will also clinch a top-two finish – and eliminate Hungary – with a draw. With a far superior goal difference, Portugal host Switzerland to end the group on 10 October.


18:00CET: Estonia (5) v Cyprus (10)
20:45CET: Greece (13) v Belgium (19), Gibraltar (0) v Bosnia and Herzegovina (11)

  • Belgium will clinch a finals place with a win and would be a on the verge of a place if they draw as their goal difference is far superior to Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


18:00CET: Azerbaijan (7) v San Marino (0)
20:45CET: Germany (21) v Norway (7), Northern Ireland (16) v Czech Republic (9)

  • Germany, with seven wins from seven, will finish in the top two; they will qualify if they beat Norway and Northern Ireland fail to get three points against the Czech Republic.
  • Northern Ireland will guarantee a top-two finish if they avoid defeat in Belfast.

18:00CET: Armenia (6) v Denmark (13)
 20:45CET: Poland (16) v Kazakhstan (2), Montenegro (13) v Romania (9)

  • No side can clinch a top-two finish on Monday

20:45CET: England (17) v Slovakia (15), Scotland (11) v Malta (0), Slovenia (11) v Lithuania (5)

  • England would guarantee a top-two finish if they beat Slovakia and both Scotland and Slovenia fail to win.

Remaining groups to follow ahead of Tuesday fixtures

How teams are split
(from competition regulations, article 20.6)

a) greatest number of points obtained in all group matches
b) goal difference in all group matches
c) greatest number of goals scored in all group matches

If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above three criteria, their rankings shall be determined as follows:
d) greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned
e) goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned
f) greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned
g) the goals scored away from home count double between the teams concerned (if the tie is only between two teams)
h) fair play points system in which the number of yellow and red cards in all group matches is considered according to the following deduction – first yellow card: minus 1 point – second yellow card/indirect red card: minus 3 points – direct red card: minus 4 points – yellow card and direct red card: minus 5 points
i) drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee.

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