With the current drama/situation surrounding the Serbian NT after the CAS verdict (and poor Euro Qualifying form even prior to the verdict), it seems only right that a Hrvat such as myself take Sally's advice (and Krle's +1) and be the one to open up the 2018 FIFA World Cup thread here on the Serb forum.
The European section of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification will act as qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, to be held in Russia, for national teams which are members of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Apart from Russia, which qualify automatically as hosts, a total of 13 slots in the final tournament are available for UEFA teams.
The qualifying format was confirmed by the UEFA Executive Committee meeting on 22–23 March 2015 in Vienna.
The qualification structure is as follows:
First round (group stage)
: The 52 teams will be divided into nine groups (seven groups of six teams and two groups of five teams) to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The winners of each group will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the eight best runners-up will advance to the second round (play-offs).
Second round (play-offs)
: The eight best runners-up from the first round will play home-and-away over two legs. The four winners will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The draw for the first round (group stage) will be held on 25 July 2015, at the Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
The seeding will be based on the FIFA World Rankings of July 2015. The 52 teams are seeded into six pots:
Pot 1 contains the teams ranked 1–9.
Pot 2 contains the teams ranked 10–18.
Pot 3 contains the teams ranked 19–27.
Pot 4 contains the teams ranked 28–36.
Pot 5 contains the teams ranked 37–45.
Pot 6 contains the teams ranked 46–52.
Each six-team group contains one team from each of the six pots, while each five-team group contains one team from each of the first five pots.
Due to the centralisation of media rights for European Qualifiers, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands will all be drawn into six-team groups. They may be placed in the same group if they are in different seeding pots.
Due to the political situation between the countries, and based on the relevant decisions taken by the UEFA Executive Committee, Azerbaijan and Armenia cannot be drawn together.
Here are the seeded teams that will start each qualification group:
And here are the teams that will be drawn, 1 from each pot, into the qualification groups:
World Cup 2018 Qualifiers begin next September after the 2016 Euros in France wrap up in July!