World Cup Qualifying – who’s in and who might be
It’s only around nine months until the 2018 World Cup finals commence in Russia, and 23 of the 32 qualifiers are already known. Now that a large proportion of the finalists have been decided, 2018 World Cup betting will really take off. If you fancy a flutter, here is a complete guide to the teams who have qualified for Russia, and those whom are still in with a chance.
Europe (14 places)
Russia have qualified as hosts, while Belgium, Germany, England, Spain, Poland, Iceland, Serbia, Portugal and France have qualified as group winners. Eight teams will meet in the playoffs to decide the final four qualifying teams from Europe: Northern Ireland will play Switzerland, Croatia will play Greece, Denmark will play Ireland and Sweden will play Italy in November.
Asia (4 or 5 places)
Iran, South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia have all qualified as group winners. Syria and Australia were both third in their group and played each other to ascertain the potential final Asian qualifier. Australia beat Syria over two legs in order to book their place in the inter-confederation play-offs where they will play Honduras.
Africa (5 places)
Nigeria and Egypt have qualified as group winners. In Group A, Tunisia are favourites to qualify, but can still be caught by DR Congo. In Group C, Morocco need a draw with the Ivory Coast to qualify, while the Ivory Coast need to win. In Group D, Senegal are favourites to qualify, but can still be caught by Burkina Faso or Cape Verde.
North America (3 or 4 places)
Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama all qualified via the final round of the CONCACAF qualification series. Honduras finished fourth in the group, and will play Australia in the inter-confederation play-offs.
South America (4 or 5 places)
Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia all qualified via the final round of the CONMEBOL qualification series. Peru finished fifth in the group, and will play New Zealand in the inter-confederation play-offs.
Oceania (0 or 1 place)
New Zealand and the Solomon Islands qualified from their respective groups. In the play off, New Zealand defeated the Solomon Islands over two legs to qualify for the inter-confederation play-offs where they will play Peru.
The bookmakers have installed Germany as favourites for the tournament at 5/1 (6.00), with Brazil second favourites at 6/1 (7.00) vying with France at 13/2 (7.50). Spain are next at around 15/2 (8.50) and despite their poor qualification campaign, Argentina are priced at 8/1 (9.00) at most online sports books.
For the eternally optimistic, England can be backed to win the 2018 World Cup at 20/1 (21.00). Although they have not yet cemented their qualification, Ireland can be backed as 200/1 (201.00) and Northern Ireland at 500/1 (501.00) …
… and for the hopelessly romantic, a punt on either of the two current first-timers at the tournament will result in fabulous, if unlikely riches. England’s victorious foes at the 2016 European Championships Iceland can be backed at 150/1 (151.00), and the other newbies Panama at 1,000/1 (1,001.00).