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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.

  

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018 sees seven groups of six nations and two groups of five. 

Russia...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Argentina's Edgardo Bauza not sorry for Barcelona-Lionel Messi comment

Luis Enrique recognizes Messi's influence on Barca, but says they have many skilled players who will carry the team forward.
ESPN FC's Sid Lowe examines Lionel Messi's latest injury and the concerns surrounding his lack of recovery time.

Argentina manager Edgardo Bauza has said that he is not sorry for comments he made last week that Barcelona are not taking care of Lionel Messi.

Messi was injured last week in Barcelona's 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid, and the club reported his torn right adductor muscle would take three weeks to heal.

Bauza was critical of the Catalan club for playing Messi in four games in 12 days despite a groin injury in his other leg that limited him earlier in the season, although the Argentina FA later...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Tigres' Guido Pizarro added to Argentina World Cup qualifying squad

Tigres' Guido Pizarro was added to Argentina's squad for October World Cup qualifying.

Argentina rounded out their squad for October World Cup qualifying on Wednesday by adding Tigres' Guido Pizarro and other Argentina league-based players, including San Lorenzo's Emmanuel Andujar, Estudiantes' Mariano Andujar and Lucas Alario, of River Plate.

Pizarro, who will get his first call-up, was added to Atletico Madrid midfielder Augusto Fernandez, who is injured. Lazio midfielder Lucas Biglia will also likely sit out also due to injury.

Two weeks ago, Edgardo Bauza named 24 players to the...

Thiago Silva: Hardest part about Brazil exile was having to face my children

Brazil coach Tite says recalling Marcelo and Thiago Silva to the squad for their upcoming WC qualifiers was a must for him.

Paris Saint-Germain captain Thiago Silva has admitted the hardest part of his recent international exile was being unable to explain to his children why he was not part of Dunga's Brazil plans.

Silva, 32, has been recalled to the Selecao squad by new coach Tite and is expected to feature in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Venezuela.

If the former Brazil captain does make an appearance, it would be his first international involvement since the Copa America exit at the hands of Paraguay...

'I don't want to fight with Barcelona' - Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza

ESPN FC's Alexis Nunes breaks down the latest from the social media world, including the hysteria over Lionel Messi's injury.

Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza says he doesn't want a fight with Barcelona as he backtracked on comments blaming the Catalan club for Lionel Messi's injury.

A club vs. country storm has surfaced after Messi picked up his second groin problem in less than a month during his side's draw with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Barca have since revealed he'll be out for three weeks, meaning he's expected to miss his country's World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Peru in October. The coach is understandably...