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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...

Nice's Mario Balotelli misses out on place in Italy squad for qualifiers

As Nice prepared for their match against Lorient, midfielder Valentin Eysseric praised Mario Balotelli's impact on the club.
Mario Balotelli can't stop scoring for Nice, this time in a losing effort against Krasnodar in the Europa League.
The guys respond to your tweets about Fernando Torres, Mario Balotelli, Kevin De Bruyne and Champions League reform.

ROME -- There is still no place for Mario Balotelli in the Italy squad after coach Gian Piero Ventura named a largely unchanged 26-man party for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Macedonia.

Balotelli has scored four goals in his past two league matches for Nice but missed last week's Ligue 1 game with injury and was forced off at half-time with illness after scoring in the Europa League against Krasnodar.

Italy are largely unchanged from the squad that won 3-1 in Israel in...

 By PA Sport

Arsene Wenger fits England crtieria perfectly - FA chief Martin Glenn

Arsene Wenger isn't ruling out becoming England boss, but has insisted he is currently fully focused on Arsenal.
The ESPN FC crew reflect on Arsene Wenger's time at Arsenal as the manager's 20th anniversary at the club approaches.
ESPN FC's Mark Donaldson breaks down the latest from social media, including Arsene Wenger's 20th anniversary at Arsenal.
Arsenal Chairman, Sir Chips Keswick, presented Arsene Wenger with a gift, thanking the Frenchman for 20 years with the club.

Arsene Wenger is among the candidates who "perfectly" fit the criteria to become England manager, Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn has said.

Just months after fully assessing a wretched Euro 2016, undertaking a general review of the Three Lions' recent tournament displays and finding a suitable replacement for Roy Hodgson, the FA's international set-up is once again in a state of flux.

The Daily Telegraph's secretly filmed footage of Sam Allardyce making a variety of controversial...

France's Didier Deschamps backs Jeremy Mathieu, then replaces him

ESPN FC's Mark Donaldson breaks down the latest from social media, including Arsene Wenger's 20th anniversary at Arsenal.
The ESPN FC crew discuss the latest edition of Shaka's Power Rankings which see Bayern Munich lose the top spot.
Jeremy Mathieu
Jeremy Mathieu will not play for France in October after initially being named to the squad.

France coach Didier Deschamps has replaced Jeremy Mathieu with Valencia's Eliaquim Mangala despite insisting the Barcelona defender is "not finished" when he originally named him in the squad for October's World Cup qualifiers.

"After an exchange with Mathieu, the coach has decided not to keep the Barcelona player in the squad for the next gathering of the France team," a brief statement from the French Football Federation confirmed on Friday.

Mathieu missed out on the European Championship in his...