Road to World Cup begins with first European Qualifiers

European Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup start on Sunday, with Germany launching their title defence in Norway and UEFA EURO 2016 winners Portugal facing Switzerland.

Germany begin their title defence in Norway on Sunday
Germany begin their title defence in Norway on Sunday ©Panoramic

The European Qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup kick off on Sunday with 54 teams beginning their bids to join hosts Russia in the finals.

• Kosovo will be playing their first competitive international at any level while Gibraltar are also making a World Cup debut.

• The nine group winners will advance directly to join Russia in the 32-team final tournament.

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

EURO 2016: Slovakia v England
EURO 2016: Slovakia v England

Sunday 4 September
Highlights
• Germany start their title defence in Norway.
• Slovakia and England have a quick UEFA EURO 2016 rematch.

18:00CEST
Group C: San Marino v Azerbaijan
Group E: Denmark v Armenia, Kazakhstan v Poland
Group F: Slovakia v England, Lithuania v Slovenia

20:45CEST
Group C: Czech Republic v Northern Ireland, Norway v Germany
Group E: Romania v Montenegro
Group F: Malta v Scotland

Wales stun Belgium to reach EURO last four
Wales stun Belgium to reach EURO last four

Monday 5 September
Highlights
• Kosovo's competitive debut is away to Finland.
• UEFA EURO 2016 surprise packages Wales, Iceland and Albania are all in action.

18:00CEST
Group D: Georgia v Austria

20:45CEST
Group D: Wales v Moldova, Serbia v Republic of Ireland
Group G: Spain v Liechtenstein, Albania v FYR Macedonia, Israel v Italy
Group I: Finland v Kosovo, Croatia v Turkey, Ukraine v Iceland

Tuesday 6 September
• Newly-crowned European champions Portugal visit Switzerland in Basel, where they lost 2-0 to the hosts in UEFA EURO 2008.
• EURO runners-up France start their campaign in the same group where a post-Zlatan Ibrahimović Sweden face surprise 2016 finals absentees the Netherlands.

Portugal lift EURO trophy in Paris
Portugal lift EURO trophy in Paris


Group A: Bulgaria v Luxembourg, Sweden v Netherlands, Belarus v France
Group B: Switzerland v Portugal, Faroe Islands v Hungary, Andorra v Latvia
Group H: Bosnia and Herzegovina v Estonia, Cyprus v Belgium, Gibraltar v Greece

Next Week of Football: 6–11 October
Highlights
Thursday 6 October: Italy v Spain, Austria v Wales
Friday 7 October: Hungary v Switzerland, France v Bulgaria
Saturday 8 October: Poland v Denmark, Germany v Czech Republic
Sunday 9 October: Iceland v Turkey, Albania v Spain
Monday 10 October: Netherlands v France, Faroe Islands v Portugal
Tuesday 11 October: Germany v Northern Ireland, Slovenia v England

Top