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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...

Lionel Messi may have 'staged' Argentina retirement - Diego Maradona

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno explains why he believes Lionel Messi will improve on last season.
Goals from Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ardan Turan gave Barcelona an emphatic 6-2 victory to begin their La Liga campaign.
Luis Enrique says his current crop is the best he's led during his time at the club.
The Argentinian FA have confirmed that star forward Lionel Messi has come out of international retirement.

Diego Maradona has suggested Lionel Messi "staged" his retirement from international football after Argentina lost the Copa America Centenario final to Chile earlier this summer.

Messi, 29, called time on his Albiceleste career after a third final defeat in as many years, following losses to Germany at the World Cup in 2014 and Chile in the Copa America last year.

However, he has since reversed his decision and forms part of new manager Edgardo Bauza's first squad for next week's World Cup qualifiers...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Chile can't be overconfident in World Cup qualifying - Juan Antonio Pizzi

As Claudio Bravo arrives in Manchester, Pep Guardiola admits being close to discuss the deal to bring the goalkeeper to the Etihad.
Barca boss Luis Enrique admitted the club are preparing for the departure of Claudio Bravo, but did not comment on the issue.

Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi has said that La Roja cannot be overconfident heading into next month's World Cup qualifying.

The two-time Copa America winners included stars Alexis Sanchez, Claudio Bravo and Arturo Vidal in the squad that will travel to Paraguay on Sept. 1 in CONMEBOL qualifying and host Bolivia five days later in Santiago.

Bravo was named to the 23-man squad after Barcelona confirmed they have agreed a deal in principle to sell the goalkeeper to Manchester City. The 33-year-old...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Argentina players must support Lionel Messi - Edgardo Bauza

The Argentinian FA have confirmed that star forward Lionel Messi has come out of international retirement.

Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza called upon the rest of the team to help reduce "Messi-dependence."

Argentina will welcome back star forward Lionel Messi next month for two Olympic qualifying matches after the Barcelona star's brief international retirement following a loss to Chile in the final of the Copa America Centenario earlier this summer.

Argentina's all-time leading scorer, with 55 goals in 113 appearances, quit in frustration after missing a penalty in the shootout defeat to Chile -- his...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Brazil coach Tite won't rule out Neymar return to captaincy

Michael Eaves reports from Rio, where Brazil won their first Olympic gold medal for soccer, on how the country has reacted.

Brazil coach Tite said he was not worried about making any urgent decisions over the captaincy of the Selecao one day after Neymar announced he would stand down.

Neymar said that he will step down as Brazil captain after scoring the winning penalty in the 5-4 shootout victory over Germany that gave his country Olympic gold.

Brazil named Neymar in their 23-man squad for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Colombia. 

On Monday, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique also reportedly said...