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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

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.

Qualified nations: Brazil, Iran

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

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

 By Mark Lovell

Rafinha targets Brazil World Cup spot and regular starting spot with Bayern

Bayern Munich's new signing Corentin Tolisso regrets not winning any silverware with his former club Lyon but vows to win in Germany.
Alexis Nunes and Steve Nicol examine the latest transfer rumours including Bayern Munich's interest in Alexis Sanchez.
Steve Nicol ranks the careers of the five footballers who will be retiring after the 2016-17 season.

Rafinha has his sights on a place in the Brazil squad for the 2018 World Cup and said he will fight Joshua Kimmich to become Philipp Lahm's successor at right back for Bayern Munich.

Rafinha, 31, made his comeback for the Selecao after a break of three years earlier this month, appearing as a second-half substitute in Brazil's 1-0 defeat to Argentina, and started in the 4-0 win over Australia.

"I'm very grateful to Tite for giving me this chance," Rafinha told kicker after earning caps three and...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Diego Maradona calls Dani Alves 'an idiot' after Hand of God criticism

Diego Maradona scored the opening goal of the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal with his hand.

Argentina legend Diego Maradona has dismissed Dani Alves' criticism of him, describing the Juventus and Brazil right-back as "an idiot" and criticising his passing ability.

Alves told Brazilian TV channel "Canais Esporte Interativo" there could be no comparison between Lionel Messi and Maradona because of the latter's infamous "Hand of God" goal in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal against England.

"You want to compare Messi to Maradona? You can't compare them," Alves said.

"I would not be proud to...