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ESPN FC  By ESPN

2018 World Cup: Who has qualified for the finals in Russia next year

Final grid for 2018 World Cup Russia
With 32 teams having qualified, the field for the 2018 World Cup in Russia is set.

Qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, which began on March 12, 2015, is over with the final 32 teams now known. The seeded draw pots can be seen in full here.

Qualified nations: Russia (hosts), Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uruguay.

UEFA PLAYOFFS...

UEFA unveils revamped '22 WC playoff system, criticises VAR usage

ESPN's Dale Johnson explains how despite criticism, VAR suffers most because so few understand what's going on.

UEFA is to introduce a new-look playoff system for its 2022 World Cup qualifying competition which will avoid the need to compare results of teams in different groups.

UEFA said the 55 teams, who will be battling for 13 places at the tournament in Qatar, will be divided into 10 groups.

The 10 group winners will qualify directly for the World Cup while the runners-up will go into the playoffs along with two more teams from the 2020-21 Nations League.

Those 12 teams will then be divided into three...

Eight men sentenced to jail for planned attacks on Israel at World Cup qualifier

Kosovo police officers stand near five suspects convicted of plotting a terror attack against Israel in a World Cup qualifier in 2016.
Kosovo police officers guard five of the nine people sentenced for planning an attack on Israel in 2016.

A Kosovo court sentenced nine Albanians, eight to jail, on Friday for planning an attack against Israel's football team during a World Cup qualifier in Albania in 2016.

Pristina court judge Hamdi Ibrahimi sentenced the leader of the group, Visar Ibishi, to 10 years in jail, and seven others received between 18 months and six years in prison. The ninth was given a €2,500 fine.

"There is no place for extremism on this land," Ibrahimi said. "Such defendants' acts have aimed to create both in...

 By Michael Cox

Kane, Alli and Sterling are England certainties but Southgate lacks a core

Traditionally in English football, positions and roles are assigned not just according to technical and physical skills, but also by reliability, durability and consistency.

Conventional wisdom suggests there are certain positions where you field solid, no-nonsense players, and largely attempt to keep a settled side: goalkeeper, centre-back, central midfield. Wide players are considered inconsistent and replaceable. Centre-forwards blow hot and cold. Creative midfielders? Well, they should consider...

ESPN FC  By ESPN

Fastest goals in World Cup, Champions League and Premier League

Christian Eriksen's 11 second strike for Tottenham against Manchester United on Wednesday was the third fastest goal in Premier League history. But who else has scored one of the quickest goals of all-time?

8.1 seconds: Christian Benteke (Belgium 6-0 Gibraltar, World Cup qualifier 2017)

Belgium striker Benteke registered the fastest international goal of all time with his 8.1 second effort and it was even more impressive because Gibraltar started with the ball in the centre circle.

The hosts,...