Facts about the 32 World Cup 2018 Teams
The 2018 World Cup teams
Excitement is building for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, now that all 32 teams have booked their place for this showpiece football event. Peru were the last team to seal their spot at the tournament after they managed to beat New Zealand in a two-legged intercontinental play-off.
The Final Draw for the Football World Cup will be held in Moscow on Friday 1 December, with Gary Lineker hosting the evening with the support of co-host Maria Komandnaya. The October 2017 FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking have been used in order to allocate the qualified teams to the four pots according to their coefficient.
We take a closer look at the pots and the teams that will appear at Russia 2018 and to present you their star player and things you didn’t know about them.
Pot 1 World Cup 2018 teams
Russia qualified for this tournament as the hosts of the competition and this is their 10th appearance in the group stage of the competition in their 15 attempts. As the Soviet Union, Russia finished 4th at England 1966.
Player to watch: Igor Akinfeev has been Russia’s key figure over the past few years and he is the national team’s captain at the moment. He has over 100 caps for his country and is a six-time Russian title winner.
Germany are the reigning champions and managed a 100% perfect record in this World Cup qualifying campaign. Germany are one of the most successful teams in this tournament as they have managed to reach the Semi-finals on 13 occasions, the final on 8 and have won the tournament four times (1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014). Coach Joachim Low has led the team to impressive success during his time in charge, lifting the World Cup in 2014 and winning the FIFA Confederations Cup with a youthful and inexperienced side.
Player to watch: Toni Kroos has played a crucial role in Germany’s performance at the World Cup 2014 and he is considered to be one of the finest midfielders of his generation.
Brazil are the most successful national team in the history of World Cup, having won five titles, earning second-placed, third-placed and fourth-place finishes twice. A Selecao were the first side to qualify for World Cup 2018 after hosts Russia.
Player to watch: Neymar is set to make his second appearance at a World Cup and he is already a FIFA Confederations Cup winner and Olympic gold medallist.
This is Portugal’s 5th consecutive appearance at a World Cup and their 6th overall. They have managed to reach the Semi-finals on two occasions, with their best achievement being in 1966 when they finished third. Portugal are coached by Fernando Santos, who made history by leading Portugal to their first major tournament success at Euro 2016.
Player to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo is definitely the man to watch for Portugal as he is the all-time leading scorer for both the national team and Real Madrid and has been named the Best FIFA Men’s Player for the last two years running.
Argentina are one of the most successful national football teams in the world, having won the World Cup back in 1978 and 1986, and finished as runners-up in 1930, 1990 and 2014. The 1930 World Cup was the inaugural edition in Uruguay, while the 2014 was the most recent edition.
Player to watch: Lionel Messi is one of the best footballers in history and he is Argentina’s captain and all-time leading goalscorer.
Belgium have appeared in the finals tournament of the World Cup on twelve occasions. They topped their UEFA Group H in qualifying, but they are yet to prove something at the finals as the level of expectations is very high due to their squad quality.
Player to watch: They have a lot of talented and skilful players, but Eden Hazard is their topman as he can both create and score goals with ease. Hazard has helped Belgium with six goals and five assists throughout the qualifying campaign.
This is Poland’s 7th appearance at a World Cup and they have reached the Semi-final twice in history. Furthermore, they finished third on two occasions back in 1974 and 1982. Poland are coached by Adam Nawalka, who led them to their first European Championship quarter-final and their first World Cup since 2006.
Player to watch: Poland’s star is definitely Robert Lewandowski, who was their top scorer during the qualifying campaign with 16 goals in ten appearances.
France are now at a World Cup for a 6th time in a row, and this is their 14th appearance overall. They won the tournament back in 1998 and have managed to reach the Semi-finals on five occasions and the Final on two. Coach Didier Deschamps has one of the best teams in the world at his disposal, with plenty of talented and skilful players.
Player to watch: It’s difficult to separate the French players, but Antoine Griezmann has been France’s most prolific player over the past few years as he was their top scorer at Euro 2016 and he also provided four goals and four assists for the team during this World Cup qualifying campaign.
Pot 2 World Cup teams
Similar to France, this is the 14th appearance for Spain at a World Cup, with their debut being in 1934 in Italy. The Spaniards won the tournament back in 2010 and managed to reach the Semi-finals on two occasions.
Player to watch: Believe it or not, Spain’s most impressive player over the past few years has been Real Madrid’s defender Sergio Ramos. He is the second-most capped player after Iker Casillas and he is the current captain of La Roja.
Peru are in the second pot despite the fact they had to beat New Zealand in an Intercontinental play-off to book their place at the finals. This is only their 5th appearance at a World Cup and they now return to the competition for the first time in 36 years.
Player to watch: Jefferson Farfan has been one of Peru’s most prolific players over the past years, but he is now 33-years-old. He played a pivotal role in Peru’s qualification for the World Cup 2018 as he scored against Paraguay in the final group fixture and against New Zealand in the play-offs.
The Swiss needed to beat Northern Ireland in the play-offs in order to book their place at the World Cup 2018. They are in the second pot because of their rich history in the competition, having reached the quarter-finals on three occasions: 1934, 1938 and 1954. Coach Vladimir Petkovic led Switzerland to the last 16 of the Euro 2016 and now to the World Cup 2018.
Player to watch: Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka are Switzerland’s most notable players, while the latter was a key figure in Petkovic’s side at World Cup 2014.
This is England’s 14th appearance at a World Cup and they managed to reach the Semi-finals twice and the Final once in this term. The Three Lions won the tournament back in 1966 when they hosted the finals. Manager Gareth Southgate led England to a 6th World Cup finals appearance in a row by topping the qualifying Group F.
Player to watch: Harry Kane, one of the world’s leading strikers, was England’s most dangerous player in front of goal throughout the qualification process, scoring five goals in six appearances.
The Mexico national team has competed in the tournament since the inaugural 1930 FIFA World Cup and managed to reach the first stage of the competition on 15 occasions. Their best achievement was reaching the quarter-finals in 1970 and 1986. Coach Juan Carlos Osorio guided his team through an excellent World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign, as Mexico booked their place in Russia with three games to spare.
Player to watch: Javier Hernandez, nicknamed ‘Chicharito’, is Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer and managed to score three goals in each of the previous two editions in South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014.
Uruguay have been one of the most successful teams at the tournament in the past as they managed to win the World Cup back in 1930 as hosts and 1950, when they beat Brazil in the final. They have now qualified for 12 World Cups, reaching the Semi-finals five times and the finals twice. Uruguay are definitely one of the most successful teams in the world, having won 19 official titles.
Player to watch: Barcelona’s flamboyant striker, Luis Suarez, is Uruguay’s all-time leading goalscorer, including five goals at South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014.
Croatia have only managed to participate at a World Cup on four occasions, but they did well to finish third in 1998 in France, which was their World Cup debut.
Player to watch: Luka Modric is one of the best midfielders in the world at the moment in time and Croatia will definitely be relying on his skills to pull the strings at Russia 2018.
Pot 3 World Cup teams
This is only the 4th appearance at a World Cup for Denmark and their best achievement in this competition was reaching the quarter-finals in 1998. They secured qualification for Russia 2018 with a comfortable play-off victory over the Republic of Ireland.
Player to watch: Christian Eriksen is definitely the man to watch for Denmark as he managed a remarkable goal haul of 11 in the qualifying phase, including a hat-trick in the play-offs.
Russia 2018 will be Iceland’s debut at a World Cup as they became the smallest country by population ever to qualify for a World Cup. They achieved that in style, by topping their qualifying group I, two points clear of Croatia. Their manager Heimir Hallgrimsson is a former dentist who led the team at Euro 2016 along with Lars Lagerback and he was in sole charge as they reached a first World Cup.
Player to watch: Everton’s midfielder, Gylfi Sigurdsson, has been named his country’s footballer of the year for the last five years running and he helped his team with four goals and four assists throughout the qualifying campaign.
This is Costa Rica’s fourth appearance at a World Cup, including their impressive campaign at Brazil 2014 when they managed to reach the quarter-finals. The most impressive fact was that they managed that from a tough group against Spain, Italy, and England.
Player to watch: Bryan Ruiz played a crucial role in Costa Rica’s performance at Brazil 2014 and he managed to score three goals in qualifying for Russia 2018.
Sweden are now participating at a World Cup for the 11th time and they have managed to reach the Semi-finals on four occasions. In World Cup history, Brazil have become Sweden’s historical rival as these two countries have met each other seven times but Sweden never managed to win. Sweden were the runners-up in 1958 on home ground.
Player to watch: Marc Berg has been Sweden’s most prolific player of late after the retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Berg has scored eight times during the Russia 2018 qualifiers.
Tunisia became the first African team to win a World Cup game at Argentina 1978, but they have never survived the group phase of a World Cup in their four appearances.
Player to watch: Youssef Msakni has been Tunisia’s main player throughout this qualifying campaign, scoring some crucial goals including a hat-trick against Guinea in their penultimate group fixture.
Egypt were the first African team to play in the World Cup finals in 1934 and this is only their third appearance in the first stage of the competition.
Player to watch: Mohamed Salah is undoubtedly Egypt’s talisman as he scored at least once in every one of their third-round victories.
This is Senegal’s only second appearance at a World Cup, but they managed to reach the quarter-finals of the competition in their debut at Korea/Japan 2002. Aliou Cisse was captain of the Senegal team that made history in 2002 and he has also impressed as a coach since taking charge in 2015 as he led the team undefeated through group D in the African qualifiers.
Player to watch: Sadio Mane is one of the best players in the world at the moment and he played a vital role in Senegal’s performances throughout the qualifying.
This is Iran’s 5th appearance at a World Cup, but they have never managed to survive the first stage of the competition. The vastly experienced Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz led Portugal to World Cup in 2010 and Iran in 2014 and he also won two Fifa U-20 World Cup titles with Portugal.
Player to watch: Ali Daei’s striker Sardar Azmoun has been impressive since bursting onto the scene at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
Pot 4 World Cup teams
Serbia have now qualified for a World Cup on twelve occasions and they managed to reach the Semi-finals twice. The Serbs topped their qualifying group D for this World Cup with only one defeat under their belts.
Player to watch: Branislav Ivanovic has been a key figure for Serbia over the past years, as he is their captain since 2012 and recently reached a century of caps.
Nigeria have been almost omnipresent at the previous World Cup editions as they have only missed one tournament since their debut at USA 1994. However, the Nigerians only managed to reach the round of 16 in 1994, 1998 and 2014.
Player to watch: The Nigerian captain is still John Obi Mikel and the team will be relying on his experience, strength, and composure in Russia.
Australia are making their 5th appearance at a World Cup, but they had to beat Honduras 3-1 in an Intercontinental play-off in order to book their place in Russia.
Player to watch: Tim Cahill is still one of Australia’s main players as he has netted 11 goals on the road to Russia and he could become one of the few players to score at four World Cups.
Japan have participated in five FIFA World Cups, the first being 1998 where they lost all three group fixtures. Their best achievement is the round of 16 in 2002 and 2010. They are led by Vahid Halilhodzic, who led Japan to their 6th successive World Cup by taking them to top spot in Asia’s Group B.
Player to watch: Maya Yoshida has been a vital player for Japan over the last two FIFA World Cup campaigns and he is the man to watch here.
Morocco have qualified for the final stages of FIFA World Cup on five occasions now after they topped the African zone Group C in qualification. Herve Renard became the first manager to win the CAF Africa Cup of Nations with different countries and he led the Atlas Lions to their first FIFA World Cup since 1998.
Player to watch: Medhi Benatia is one of the best defenders in Africa and he has been involved in big-money moves between Bayern Munich and Juventus.
This is Panama’s World Cup debut and they should be thankful to coach Hernan Dario Gomez for this performance. Gomez has previous experience at the global finals, having coached Colombia in 1998 and Ecuador at the 2002 edition.
Player to watch: Blas Perez has been in fantastic shape over the past years as he managed to score eleven goals in four World Cup qualifying campaigns.
The Republic Of Korea have now qualified for their 10th World Cup and they managed to reach the Semi-finals in 2002 when they finished 4th.
Player to watch: Korea Republic’s captain Ki Sung-Yueng has become the nation’s most recognizable footballer as he has now spent six seasons in the English Premier League.
Saudi Arabia have appeared in the finals of the FIFA World Cup on five occasions, with the most recent one in 2014. Their best achievement in this term was reaching the round of 16 in 1994. They are coached by Juan Antonio Pizzi, who managed to win the Copa America Centenario with Chile in 2016.
Player to watch: Mohammad Al-Sahlawi has been in incredible shape throughout this qualifying campaign as he managed to find the back of the net on 16 occasions. He is a genuine star in Saudi football and the team will be relying on his skills in Russia.