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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.

  

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018 sees seven groups of six nations and two groups of five. 

Russia...

'I don't want to fight with Barcelona' - Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza

ESPN FC's Alexis Nunes breaks down the latest from the social media world, including the hysteria over Lionel Messi's injury.

Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza says he doesn't want a fight with Barcelona as he backtracked on comments blaming the Catalan club for Lionel Messi's injury.

A club vs. country storm has surfaced after Messi picked up his second groin problem in less than a month during his side's draw with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Barca have since revealed he'll be out for three weeks, meaning he's expected to miss his country's World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Peru in October. The coach is understandably...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Barcelona 'don't take care of' Messi - Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza

ESPN FC's Sid Lowe examines Lionel Messi's latest injury and the concerns surrounding his lack of recovery time.
ESPN's Toni Collins assesses just how important Lionel Messi is to Barca as he is now sidelined with injury.
ESPN FC's Alexis Nunes breaks down the latest from the social media world, including the hysteria over Lionel Messi's injury.
Luis Enrique recalls Barcelona's experience playing without Lionel Messi, and has confidence his team can persevere.
ESPN FC's Paolo Bandini discusses how Lionel Messi's injury in the match against Atletico Madrid will affect Barcelona.

Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza on Thursday blasted Barcelona for not taking care of Lionel Messi and doubted he would be fit in time for his country's World Cup qualifying matches next month.

Messi was injured on Wednesday in Barcelona's 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid, and the club reported that he has a torn right adductor and will be out for three weeks.

Bauza was critical of Barcelona for playing Messi in four games in 12 days despite a groin injury in his other leg that limited him earlier...

 By Tim Vickery

Tite benefitting from Dunga's final good call as Brazil boss

ESPN FC's Brian McBride discusses Brazil's impressive play in their World Cup Qualifying matches.

If you want to appear tall, then the best way is to stand next to someone very short.

Two winning games into his reign, new Brazil coach Tite looms like a giant. Usually the man who chooses the Brazil team is the focus of constant criticism from his ever-demanding compatriots. For the moment, Tite is above all that -- but he did follow Dunga, whose nickname comes from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," and who was sacked after his side failed to qualify from their group in the recent Copa Centenario.

Dunga...