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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 PA Sport

Albania appoint Christian Panucci to replace Gianni De Biasi

Christian Panucci has previously managed Livorno and Ternana.

The Albanian Football Association has kept faith with Italian coaching methods by appointing former AC Milan and Roma defender Christian Panucci as Gianni De Biasi's successor.

The 44-year-old former full-back, who played for Chelsea on loan at the turn of the century, was announced as the head of the national team on Wednesday morning.

Panucci -- briefly Fabio Capello's assistant in Russia -- follows in the footsteps of Treviso-born De Biasi, who secured Albania's surprise qualification for Euro...

Germany's Joachim Low: There's still hope for injured Reus, Sane, Gundogan

The FC crew debate whether or not Germany's Confederations Cup win makes them clear favourites at the 2018 World Cup.

Germany coach Joachim Low has handed fresh hope to players such as Marco Reus, Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan, who all were unable to take part in the Confederations Cup due to injury.

While Low rested several star players at the recent tournament in Russia which Germany won, others including Reus, Sane, Gundogan and Mario Gotze were not up for selection because of injuries and, in the case of the latter, illness.

Borussia Dortmund winger Reus has been hit hard in particular by injuries, missing...

Oliver Bierhoff: Germany must have courage to change despite successes

The FC crew debate whether or not Germany's Confederations Cup win makes them clear favourites at the 2018 World Cup.
The FC crew discuss Germany's Confederations Cup title, and if it makes them the team to beat in the 2018 World Cup.

Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff has warned they cannot "just sit back" after their recent successes, telling Die Welt that other nations are "at least catching up" in the younger age categories.

World champions Germany won the European Under-21 Championship on Friday before the senior side beat Chile to claim the Confederations Cup on Sunday, despite having rested key stars like Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Mats Hummels.

Germany boss Joachim Low and U21 coach Stefan Kuntz called up largely...

Germany have 'very few untouchables' - Oliver Bierhoff

Head coach Joachim Low, goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and defender Matthias Ginter reflect on Germany's Confed Cup win.
The FC panel can't believe Gonzalo Jara was not sent off for Chile in the Confederations Cup final after a VAR review.
The FC crew discuss Germany's Confederations Cup title, and if it makes them the team to beat in the 2018 World Cup.
Janusz Michallik hails a new golden generation for Germany after their Confederations Cup final triumph over Chile.
A Chile dominated match ended with a young German squad capturing the Confed Cup title, thanks to Lars Stindl's lone goal.

Oliver Bierhoff has praised Germany's depth following a hugely successful weekend for the nation with 1-0 victories in the finals of both the Confederations Cup and the European Under-21 Championship.

Germany head coach Joachim Low handed star players including Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller a rest this summer and called up an inexperienced squad for the Confederations Cup in Russia.

The absence of many 2014 World Cup winners allowed up-and-coming players like Timo Werner,...