Road to Russia 2018: Brazil through, but who’s in danger of missing the World Cup?

As the dust settles on another international break, we bring you the latest news from every qualifying section for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Brazil became the first side to qualify for next year’s tournament, while South American rivals Argentina face the very real prospect of failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1970.

Elsewhere, the battle between Spain and Italy looks set to go to the wire in Europe, while Uzbekistan have an outside chance of reaching their first World Cup.

Here, we take an in-depth look at all of the World Cup qualifying sections…

EUROPE: ITALY AND SPAIN LEVEL PEGGING

Two of Europe’s heavyweights are neck-and-neck in Group G. Wins in March for both Italy and Spain leave the duo on 13 points, while their meeting in Madrid on September 2 could well decide who qualifies automatically and who drops into a play-off spot.

A perfect start for Switzerland (five wins from five) sees them three points ahead of Euro 2016 winners Portugal in Group B, while Germany are looking comfortable in Group C as maximum points so far leaves them five clear of Northern Ireland.

Group F leaders England are four points better off than Slovakia, while Poland have a stranglehold on top spot in Group E as four wins and a draw put them six points clear of both Montenegro and Denmark.

It’s too close to call in Group D currently – Serbia and the Republic of Ireland are level on 11 points, with Wales and Austria four adrift and at risk of missing out.

Group H remains tight with Belgium narrowly ahead of Greece and Bosnia, while Croatia are first in Group I with Iceland, Ukraine and Turkey in pursuit.

Qualified: (0/14)

The nine group winners qualify automatically for the World Cup, while the eight best runners-up are paired into a two-legged play-off for the right to reach Russia.

SOUTH AMERICA: ARGENTINA IN PERIL

SApts

Points standing for the South American teams

Colombia’s 2-0 win in Ecuador saw them move above Uruguay, who slipped to third in the standings following a 2-1 defeat at Peru – a result which ultimately guaranteed Brazil’s qualification.

Meanwhile, Chile leapfrogged Argentina into fourth with a 3-1 win over Venezuela.

Qualified: Brazil (1/4.5)

The top four qualify automatically for the World Cup, while the fifth-placed team faces a two-legged play-off against the winners from the Oceania section.

ASIA: UZBEKISTAN FOR RUSSIA?

It’s looking good for Iran in Group A – two wins in March puts them four points clear at the top ahead of South Korea, who hampered Syria’s chances with a narrow 1-0 win on Tuesday.

Uzbekistan are just one point behind South Korea (with the top two qualifying automatically) following their 1-0 victory over 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, who sit bottom after one win, one draw and five losses.

ASiagpb

Asia: Group A points table

In Group B, Japan and Saudi Arabia are level on 16 points after both sides enjoyed two wins during the March international break.

Australia sit three points adrift in third, having drawn 1-1 with Iraq before going on to beat UAE 2-0.

AsiaGpA

Asia: Group B points table

Qualified: (0/4.5)

The top two from each group qualify automatically for the World Cup. The two third-placed teams face one another in a two-legged play-off, while the winner of that tie takes on the fourth-placed team from North America in a two-legged play-off.

AFRICA: SUPER EAGLES SOARING

No group matches took place in March, with the next set of fixtures set to take place in late August and early September.

However, after two games played, Nigeria are four points clear of Cameroon in Group B, while two wins for Egypt has them two points above Uganda in Group E.

Group A is finely poised with Congo DR and Tunisia on six points, while Ivory Coast are top of Group C – two points above Gabon and Morocco.

It’s also close in Group D – Burkina Faso and South Africa are on four points, one clear of Senegal in third.

Qualified: (0/5)

The five group winners all qualify for the World Cup.

NORTH AMERICA: USA STRUGGLING

Mexico lead the way in the North America following March victories over Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago.

Costa Rica now sit second on seven points after following their 2-0 loss in Mexico with a 1-1 draw in Honduras.

Concacaf

CONCACAF: Points Table

Panama held USA to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday night and now hold a one-point advantage over the Americans in third.

But with six sets of fixtures still to play, the three automatic spots in the CONCACAF qualifiers remain very much up for grabs.

Qualified: (0/3.5)

The top three qualify automatically for the World Cup, while the fourth-placed team face a two-legged play-off against team from Asia.

OCEANIA: KIWIS TEAM TO BEAT

New Zealand blitzed their group to reach Oceania’s play-off in November, but their opponents remain unknown after Papua New Guinea’s 2-1 win away to Tahiti keep Group B alive.

Tahiti knew a win would take them through to face New Zealand, but PNG and Solomon Islands are three points behind the group leaders, and crucially have two games in hand each.

Qualified: (0/0.5)

The winner of the two-legged Oceania play-off then faces the fifth-placed team from South America for a place in the World Cup.

(eurosport)

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