European qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup consists of a group stage and a play-off round, providing 13 UEFA member nations for the 32-team final tournament in Russia (who qualify as by right).
Qualifying group stage
Matches take place between 4 September 2016 and 10 October 2017 with seven groups of six teams and two of five. The nine group winners qualify directly for the finals and the eight runners-up with the best record against the teams finishing first, third, fourth and fifth in their section go into the play-offs.
The eight teams are drawn into four pairings for two-legged ties played from 9 abnd 14 November 2017. If scores are level after the second leg the team with the most away goals qualified, whether after 90 minutes or extra time. The four winners qualify for the finals.
The allocation for other confederations is: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 4.5, Confederation of African Football (CAF) 5.0, Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) 3.5, South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) 4.5, Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) 0.5, and one slot for the hosts Russia. The teams are drawn into eight groups of four with the top two going into the knockout phase.
Further details, including the criteria for separating teams that finish level on points in a group, or after extra time in a match, can be found in the
official competition regulations.