32 nations. 64 games. 1 goal. The 2018 FIFA World Cup™ in Russia is the 21st edition of the single biggest tournament for the single biggest sport on the planet, and the first to be held in Eastern Europe.
New to the FIFA World Cup™? Not sure who to watch or to root for with the USMNT out of the picture? Don’t worry. From Stu Holden’s 50 Greatest Players To Watch in Russia to our video breakdowns of all 32 teams in the field, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
And for a little bit of history? Check out our countdown of the 100 Most Memorable FIFA World Cup™ Moments to learn about the legendary players, teams and games that changed the Beautiful Game on its biggest stage.
The 32 qualified teams were drawn into eight groups of four at the FIFA World Cup™ Draw, the biggest tentpole event ahead of the tournament. Each team play their three group opponents once, with the top two teams advancing to the knockout stage.
Where is the US Men’s National Team?
The U.S. men’s national team’s Road to Russia ended in heartbreak after it’s 2-1 defeat in Trinidad & Tobago on the final day of qualifying. The USMNT’s dropped from 3rd to 5th place in ‘The Hex,’ and ensured it will miss the FIFA World Cup™ for the first time since 1986.
US Men’s Team Page
Russia, as hosts, were the only nation that qualified automatically for the 2018 World Cup. All other FIFA member associations were eligible to enter the qualification process.
CONCACAF — North, Central America & Caribbean
The best three teams in Concacaf’s preliminary competition qualify directly to the World Cup. The 4th-place finisher plays the 5th-best team in Asia in a two-legged inter-confederation playoff for an additional berth.
AFC — Asia
The best four teams in Asia’s preliminary competition qualify directly to the World Cup. The 5th-place finisher plays the 4th-best team in Concacaf in a two-legged inter-confederation playoff for an additional berth.
CONMEBOL — South America
The best five teams in South America’s preliminary competition qualify directly to the World Cup. The 6th-place finisher plays the winner of Oceania’s qualifying competition in a two-legged inter-confederation playoff.
CAF — Africa
The Confederation of African Football’s Preliminary Competition offers five berths at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
OFC — Oceania
The winner of Oceania’s preliminary competition plays the 5th best team in South America (Conmebol) for a spot in the World Cup.
UEFA – Europe
Europe’s Preliminary Competition offers the highest number of berths at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™: thirteen in total.
The official FIFA World Rankings determine which Pot each country is allocated to. Teams in Pot 1 are drawn first, with host Russia automatically assigned Group A. Then Pot 2 teams are drawn into groups at random, followed by Pot 3 and Pot 4.
No group can contain more than 1 country per confederation, except for UEFA (Europe), which can have up to two teams in the same group (i.e. Brazil cannot be drawn with Colombia).