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FIFA World Cup qualifying draw format

The European 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw will be held on 25 July at Konstantinovsky Palace in St Petersburg, with FIFA world rankings deciding the seedings.

Holders Germany are among the 52 teams in the draw
Holders Germany are among the 52 teams in the draw ©AFP/Getty Images

The European 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw will be held at Konstantinovsky Palace in St Petersburg on Saturday 25 July, with the FIFA world rankings used to decide the seedings.

Continental allocations
Africa: 5
Asia: 4.5
 Europe: 13 
North, Central America and Caribbean: 3.5
Oceania: 0.5
South America: 4.5
 Hosts: 1 (Russia)

Format
• The 52 entrants (all UEFA national associations except automatically qualified hosts Russia and non-FIFA members Gibraltar) will be drawn into seven groups of six teams and two of five.

• The nine group winners advance directly to the final tournament.

• The eight runners-up with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups proceed to play-offs to decide the remaining four European berths.

Germany topped the June FIFA rankings
Germany topped the June FIFA rankings©Getty Images

Draw procedure
Six seeding pots will be formed as per the FIFA world rankings for July 2015 published early in the month (June rankings).

• All groups will contain one team from each of the top five seeding pots. Each of the seven sides in the sixth pot will be allocated to a six-team group.

• 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.

• The fixture list will be confirmed on Sunday 26 July.

Qualifying is centralised as for UEFA EURO
Qualifying is centralised as for UEFA EURO©UEFA.com

Dates
Matchday 1: 4–6 September 2016
Matchday 2: 6–8 October 2016
Matchday 3: 9–11 October 2016
Matchday 4: 11–13 November 2016
Matchday 5: 24–26 March 2017
Matchday 6: 9–11 June 2017
Matchday 7: 31 August–2 September 2017
Matchday 8: 3–5 September 2017
Matchday 9: 5–7 October 2017
Matchday 10: 8–10 October 2017
Play-off first leg: 9–11 November 2017
Play-off second leg: 12–14 November 2017
Final tournament (Russia): 14 June–15 July 2018