The start of the Russia 2018 World Cup is only eight months (32 weeks) away, and after the last round of qualifiers, the line-up for the tournament is almost over.
England will be in Russia 2018 World Cup and could be joined by Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if they do it through the playoffs.
But what are the key dates for the Russia 2018 World Cup? Where are the venues for the matches? When will the games be played? And who will be watching the tournament from home? Here you have everything you need to know …
Who has automatically qualified for Russia 2018 World Cup?
Of the 31 places at stake in the Russia 2018 World Cup – with Russia qualifying as hosts – 23 have been secured.
So far, the confirmed representatives of Europe are England, Germany, Belgium, Iceland, Poland, Serbia, Spain, France, and Portugal. Iceland is the smallest nation in all countries to reach a World Cup.
From South America, five times winners Brazil have qualified together with Argentina, Uruguay, and Colombia.
Costa Rica, Egypt, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Panama have also secured their positions.
There are still places to be decided in Africa, as the last round of group matches will take place in November.
Who could still qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup?
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could be in Russia if they make it through the playoffs. There are eight teams in Europe competing for four qualifying positions.
New Zealand faces Peru in a play-off for a qualifying spot and there is also another place in the game between Australia and Honduras.
When are the playoffs and how do they work?
The two games will be played during the next international break in November, with the first legs between 9 and 11 November and the second between 12 and 14 November.
The eight playoffs in Europe are Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Croatia, Greece, Switzerland, and Sweden.
The format for the draw sees the top four qualifiers of FIFA – Portugal / Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, and Denmark – planted in a single boat and tied against the remaining four teams.
The first game drawn will be the home team for the first leg and the draw will be held in Zurich on Tuesday, October 17th.
Who has not qualified for Russia 2018 World Cup?
There will be some big names that will not play the tournament in Russia.
The two-time winners Argentina almost lost out but finally got their place with a win over Ecuador, however, Chile was eliminated after their final defeat by 3-0 against Brazil.
Panama’s dramatic late winning over Costa Rica meant the United States lost the qualification for the first time since 1986.
Wales and Scotland both kept their fate in their own hands in their final qualifying matches, but both failed to achieve the required results to advance.
The Netherlands lost in a second successive tournament after finishing behind France and Sweden and Austria. Czech Republic, Ukraine, Turkey, and Norway will also be watching the tournament from home.
Cameroon and Ghana were unable to qualify for Africa along with Riyad Mahrez’s Algeria, who had a disappointing qualifying campaign.
China will not be in Russia either, together with Ecuador and Venezuela.
When is the World Cup draw?
The draw for the group stage will take place on Friday, December 1 in Moscow. It will be held at the Kremlin State Palace inside the Moscow Kremlin and will be able to follow the draw for you to get the result.
In a move to previous editions, the 31 qualified teams will be allocated in four pots based on their FIFA ranking as of October 16, 2017. That means the top seven ranked teams in the world will enter Pot 1 together with the hosts Russia, with the rest of the teams then assigned pots in descending order of their ranking.
The four pots will be emptied and the countries will be drawn into groups of four groups from A to H.
When is the Russia 2018 World Cup?
A little less than 250 days to wait …
The Russia 2018 World Cup kicks off on Thursday, June 14, with hosts Russia playing the opening match. The tournament will end on July 15 at Luzhniki Stadium, the same place where it started a month ago.
Before the final, the 16-match round starts on June 30, with the quarter-finals on 6 and 7 July and the semi-finals on 10 and 11 July.
Where will matches be played?
Russia is a vast country with 11 time zones, but all places for the Russia 2018 World Cup are in the west to avoid too many travel problems.
There are 12 venues in 11 cities, with Ekaterinburg further east and Kaliningrad further west.
Ekaterinburg Stadium – Ekaterinburg Arena – includes one of the unique features of all venues, as it has two temporary stands outside the original perimeter to ensure it meets FIFA’s minimum of 35,000 spectators.
Kaliningrad Stadium, Volgograd Stadium, Fisht Stadium, Kazan Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Samara Stadium, Rostov-on-Don Stadium, Spartak Stadium, St Petersburg Stadium and Saransk Stadium.
When will the matches kick-off?
The opening match of the Russia 2018 World Cup will be played on Thursday, June 14 at 18:00 Moscow time (16:00 UK time) (16:00 Nigerian time).
The group stage matches will be played throughout the day, some starting at 15:00 Moscow time (13:00 UK time) (13:00 Nigerian time) and others at 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Moscow time (16:00 p.m. 19:00 UK time) (4:00 p.m and 7: p.m Nigerian time ).
The Russia 2018 World Cup final will be played again at 6 pm Moscow time (4:00 p.m Nigerian time) (16:00 UK time).