Teams

208 countries entered for the 2018 World Cup, but there is only space for just 32 teams in Russia. To qualify a total of 871 games were played between 12 March 2015 and 15 November 2017 with 2,469 goals being scored.

In the 20 previous World Cup Finals there had been only eight champions and they are: Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002); Italy (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006); Germany (1954, 1974,1990, 2014);  Argentina (1978, 1986); Uruguay (1930, 1950); England (1966); France (1998) and Spain (2010). All eight champions played in Brazil in 2014, but only seven will be in Russia in 2018. Four time winner, Italy, being the odd man out.

The 32 teams to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and their FIFA rankings are:

  1. Argentina (4) – Finalist – Runner-up in Brazil
  2. Australia  (43) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  3. Belgium (5) – Quarter finalist in Brazil
  4. Brazil (2) – Semi finalist- 4th place in Brazil
  5. Colombia (13) – Quarter finalist in Brazil
  6. Costa Rica (22) – Quarter finalist in Brazil
  7. Croatia (18) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  8. Denmark (19) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2010
  9. Egypt (30) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 1990
  10. England (12) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  11. France (7) – Quarter finalist in Brazil
  12. Germany (1) – Finalist – 2014 World Champions in Brazil
  13. Iceland (21) – First World Cup Finals appearance
  14. Iran (31) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  15. Japan (44) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  16. Mexico (16) – Knocked out in the round of 16 in Brazil
  17. Morocco (48) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2010
  18. Nigeria (41) – Knocked out in the round of 16 in Brazil
  19. Panama (49) – First World Cup Finals appearance
  20. Peru (10) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 1982
  21. Poland (6) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2006
  22. Portugal (3) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  23. Russia (65) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  24. Saudi Arabia (63) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2006
  25. Senegal (32) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2002
  26. Serbia (38) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2010
  27. South Korea (62) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  28. Spain (8) – Knocked out at the group stage in Brazil
  29. Sweden (25) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2006
  30. Switzerland (11) – Knocked out in the round of 16 in Brazil
  31. Tunisia (28) – Last played in the World Cup Finals in 2006
  32. Uruguay (17) – Knocked out in the round of 16 in Brazil

Of the 32 teams playing in Russia, 20 of them are returning after the previous tournament in Brazil in 2014, which means 12 teams that played in Brazil won’t be in Russia, but 12 teams new teams are. New since Brazil are Denmark, Egypt, Iceland (first World Cup Finals appearance), Morocco, Panama, (first World Cup Finals appearance), Peru, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sweden and Tunisia. Nigeria is the only African side to return to the World Cup Finals after Brazil, while Brazil was the first team to qualify.

Host Russia is ranked 65th in the FIFA ranking of October 2017, making it the lowest ranked team in the tournament. The next host country, Qatar, is ranked 97th and did not qualify for Russia.

Chile, the world’s 9th ranked team in the FIFA ranking of October 2017, is the highest ranked team not to qualify for Russia, followed by Wales in 14th, Italy in 15th, and the Netherlands in 20th.

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