Belgium have become the first team from Europe to join hosts Russia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and it will be another month before anyone joins them. We explain the permutations for the three groups in action on Tuesday.
Correct after games played on 4 September
Which European teams have qualified?
Russia (hosts), Belgium
Who can still qualify automatically?
Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany (holders)*, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Netherlands, Northern Ireland**, Poland, Portugal*, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland*, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales
*Have at least clinched a play-off
**Will finish in top two of group
Who can still make the play-offs?
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Israel
Who is out of contention?
Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Czech Republic, Faroe Islands, Finland, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Gibraltar, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Romania, San Marino
Who has qualified from outside Europe?
Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico
Group by group permutations …
20:45CET: Austria (8) v Georgia (4), Moldova (2) v Wales (11), Republic of Ireland (13) v Serbia (15)
- If Serbia win and Wales do not, Serbia will finish in the top two (even if Wales draw as they still have to play Ireland).
- If Austria lose and Ireland win, Austria are out.
20:45CET: Italy (16) v Israel (9), Liechtenstein (0) v Spain (19), FYR Macedonia (6) v Albania (12)
- Spain will clinch a top-two finish with a win but cannot seal qualification on Tuesday
20:45CET: Iceland (13) v Ukraine (14), Kosovo (1) v Finland (4), Turkey (11) v Croatia (16)
- No issues involving the four teams still in contention can be settled on Tuesday as they meet each other in two crucial games.
SATURDAY 7 OCTOBER
18:00CET: Sweden (16) v Luxembourg (5)
20:45CET: Belarus (5) v Netherlands (13), Bulgaria (12) v France (17)
- France will clinch the group if they win and Sweden lose. France would guarantee a top-two finish if they win, while a draw could be enough provided the Netherlands fail to beat Belarus.
- Sweden will secure a top-two finish if Bulgaria fail to beat France and Sweden pick up more points than the Netherlands manage against Belarus.
- The Netherlands will be out if they fail to at least match Sweden’s result.
- Bulgaria will stay in the hunt with a win. If they fail to triumph and Sweden pick up a point against Luxembourg, they will be out.
18:00CET: Faroe Islands (8) v Latvia (3)
20:45CET: Andorra (4) v Portugal (21), Switzerland (24) v Hungary (10)
- Switzerland (yet to drop a point) and Portugal are certain to finish in the top two and at worst will be in the play-offs.
- With three points separating the pair with two games to go, Portugal must at least match Switzerland’s result to keep hopes alive of top spot. Portugal, who have a far superior goal difference, host Switzerland to end the group on 10 October.
18:00CET: Gibraltar (0) v Estonia (8), Bosnia and Herzegovina (14) v Belgium (22)
20:45CET: Cyprus (10) v Greece (13)
- Belgium have clinched a finals place with two games to spare.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina will seal second spot if they win and Greece lose.
- Cyprus must win and hope Bosnia and Herzegovina drop points, or draw and hope Bosnia and Herzegovina lose.
SUNDAY 8 OCTOBER
18:00CET: Azerbaijan (10) v Czech Republic (9)
20:45CET: San Marino (0) v Norway (7), Northern Ireland (19) v Germany (24)
- Germany, with eight wins from eight, are assured a play-off. Northern Ireland are also guaranteed to finish in the top two but are not yet guaranteed a play-off. The sides meet in Belfast next time out, with world champions Germany requiring a point to qualify for Russia.
18:00CET: Armenia (6) v Poland (19)
20:45CET: Romania (9) v Kazakhstan (2), Montenegro (16) v Denmark (16)
- Poland need a point to guarantee a top-two finish. They will clinch the group if they win and Denmark draw in Montenegro.
20:45CET: Scotland (14) v Slovakia (15), England (20) v Slovenia (14), Malta (0) v Lithuania (5)
- England qualify if they win, or if they draw and Slovakia do not win. Regardless they would guarantee a top-two finish with a draw, or even if they lose should Scotland and Slovakia draw.
- Slovakia will secure second place if they beat Scotland and Slovenia lose to England.
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.