World Cup 2018: Which teams are in, which can still qualify, and how will they be seeded?

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The World Cup trophy is displayed in front of the official logo for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. (Getty)
The World Cup trophy is displayed in front of the official logo for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. (Getty)

The 2018 World Cup doesn’t kick off until June 14, but the field for next summer’s tournament in Russia is almost set. In fact, by the end of the day, it will be complete.

Australia became the 31st nation to qualify for Russia with a convincing 3-1 second-leg win over Honduras that leaves only one more spot up for grabs.

Here are the 31 countries that have already secured their seats at the 2018 World Cup table:

THE (INCOMPLETE) 2018 WORLD CUP FIELD

Europe (13, plus host): Russia (host), Belgium, Germany, England, Spain, Poland, Iceland, Serbia, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark
South America (4): Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia
North/Central America (3): Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama
Africa (5): Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia
Asia (5): Iran, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia

The one remaining berth will go to either Peru or New Zealand.

 

INTERCONTINENTAL PLAYOFFS

The South America-Oceania playoff is a home-and-home series decided by aggregate goals over the two legs. If the teams are level on goals, the tiebreaker is away goals. If they are tied on away goals, they go to extra time and penalties in the second leg.

Peru and New Zealand will contest their second leg Wednesday night. The first leg ended 0-0 in New Zealand.

 

2018 WORLD CUP DRAW

So what’s next, after Peru and New Zealand conclude their second leg on Wednesday night? The World Cup draw, of course. It will take place Friday, Dec. 1 at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

The draw will follow a similar format to past editions, with four pots of eight teams, and one team from each pot being drawn into each of the eight groups. But the seeding of this year’s draw will be different.

WORLD CUP DRAW SEEDING

Whereas in the past, the top seven teams joined the host nation in Pot 1 and the rest of the 24 teams were placed into pots by region, FIFA has decided to seed the 2018 World Cup field 1-32. All four pots will be based on the October FIFA Rankings.

Here’s how the 33 nations still alive stack up against one another in those rankings, with those that have already qualified in bold, and Russia, the hosts, automatically in the top spot (and in Pot 1):

1. Russia
2. Germany
3. Brazil
4. Portugal
5. Argentina
6. Belgium
7. Poland
8. France

9. Spain
10. Peru
11. Switzerland
12. England
13. Colombia

14. Mexico
15. Uruguay
16. Croatia

17. Denmark
18. Iceland
19. Costa Rica

20. Sweden
21. Tunisia
22. Egypt
23. Senegal
24. Iran

25. Serbia
26. Nigeria
27. Australia
28. Japan
29. Morocco
30. Panama
31. South Korea
32. Saudi Arabia
33. New Zealand

SEEDING IMPLICATIONS OF FINAL QUALIFIERS

Of the 31 teams that have qualified, 29 know which pot they’ll be in on Dec. 1:

Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
Pot 2: Spain, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
Pot 3: Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
Pot 4: Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia

The remaining scenarios are as follows:

If Peru wins its playoffs, it will fill out Pot 2.

If Peru loses, Denmark will be in Pot 2, and Serbia will be in Pot 3. If Peru wins, Denmark will go to Pot 3, and Serbia to Pot 4.

New Zealand will go to Pot 4 if it qualifies.

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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.

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