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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

2018 World Cup - who has qualified for the finals and who can get there

Eight down, 24 to go on the Road to Russia 2018.

The qualifying process for the 2018 World Cup, which began on March 12, 2015, is reaching its climax. 

So far, eight nations have booked their place to join host nation Russia in next year's tournament.

Qualified nations: Russia (hosts), Belgium, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea.

EUROPE (UEFA; 13 PLACES)

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018 sees seven groups of six nations and two groups of five. 

Russia qualify as hosts. Group...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Pastore left out of Argentina squad for qualifiers

Currently fifth in CONMEBOL, Craig Burley still sees Argentina making it to Russia 2018, albeit in tense fashion.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has put his faith in youth again as he tries to salvage the nation's place in next year's World Cup in Russia.

Sampaoli included Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi in the squad on Friday but again omitted Juventus veteran Gonzalo Higuain. Sampaoli also left Higuain off the team for Argentina's previous two World Cup qualifiers.

Icardi started both qualifiers last month -- draws against Venezuela and Uruguay -- in his first appearances for the Albiceleste since 2013.

PSG's...

Brazil call up Danilo, Fred, Diego Tardelli for final World Cup qualifiers

Danilo has returned to the Brazil squad for next month's qualifiers.

Brazil coach Tite has brought defender Danilo, midfielders Fred and Diego, and striker Diego Tardelli for the last World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Chile next month.

Danilo, who has not been in a Selecao squad since March 2016, joins his Manchester City teammates Ederson, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus in the team, while Liverpool's duo of Phillippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are also included.

Shakhtar Donetsk's Fred and Shandong Luneng's Diego Tardelli return for the first time since...

By ESPN Staff

Peru ask FIFA to move Argentina qualifier from Boca Juniors stadium

Boca Juniors fans at La Bombonera stadium.
Peru officials do not believe La Bombonera will provide a safe venue.

LIMA, Peru -- Peruvian football officials have asked FIFA to shift the World Cup qualifier against Argentina next month from Boca Juniors' Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires.

In a letter to FIFA general secretary Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura, the Peruvian Football Association says it "will be difficult to ensure" the safety of "the Peruvian association as well as the thousands of fans who will travel from Peru for the historic match."

A match in 2015 between Boca Juniors and archrival River Plate was...

 By Chris Wright

Peru fans watch football at funeral

With an important World Cup qualifier against Ecuador on the cards, it would appear that nothing was going to stop this group of avid Peru fans from watching the match.

Not even the fact that they appeared to be attending a funeral at the time.

Despite the coffin stowed away in the background, it would seem that all attention was trained on the flat-screen television on the wall as Peru ran out 2-1 winners.

Looks like Bill Shankly was right: football really is more important than life or death.

Chris covers the funny side of the game for ESPN FC in the Toe Poke blog.