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Participation:

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53 of the 54 UEFA member associations are eligible to participate (Gibraltar is a member of UEFA, but not FIFA, and is thus not eligible to participate).



53 teams enter the competition:

- all 53 eligible UEFA member associations.



The 2018 Russia World Cup hosts (Russia) qualify directly for the 2018 Russia World Cup Group stage.





Group stage:

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Format:

52 teams are drawn into 7 groups of 6 teams each (groups A-G) and 2 groups of 5 teams each (groups H and I).

Teams are seeded into 6 pots (5 pots of 9 teams each and 1 pot of 7 teams), based on their July 2015 FIFA World Rankings:

The nine highest ranked teams are seeded into Pot 1, the next nine highest ranked teams - into Pot 2 and so on, with the seven lowest ranked teams being seeded into Pot 6.

Pot 1: Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, England, Wales, Spain and Croatia;

Pot 2: Slovakia, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Denmark and Bosnia-Herzegovina;

Pot 3: Ukraine, Scotland, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Albania, Northern Ireland, Serbia and Greece;

Pot 4: Turkey, Slovenia, Israel, Republic of Ireland, Norway, Bulgaria, Faroe Islands, Montenegro and Estonia;

Pot 5: Cyprus, Latvia, Armenia, Finland, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania and Moldova;

Pot 6: Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Georgia, Malta, San Marino and Andorra.

Each group consists of one team from each pot, with teams from Pot 6 being drawn first, then teams from Pot 5, 4, 3 and 2 in that order.

For TV rights reasons England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands from cannot be drawn in groups H and I.

For political reasons Azerbaijan and Armenia cannot be drawn in the same group.

Each team plays the others from its own group twice - home and away - for a total of 10 games each (8 games each for groups H and I), over 10 game weeks.



Scoring points:

3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss.



Table order:

1. points won; 2. total goal difference; 3. total goals scored; 4. points in head-to-head matches; 5. goal difference in hth matches; 6. goals scored in hth matches; 7. away goals in hth matches (only if exactly 2 teams are tied); 8. play-off.



Qualification for FIFA competitions:

1 place of each group: 2018 Russia World Cup



Qualification for Play-offs:

the eight best 2nd placed teams: enter Play-offs for 4 places in the 2018 Russia World Cup



Tie-breakers for determining the best 2nd placed teams:

1. points won; 2. total goal difference; 3. total goals scored; 4. total away goals scored.

* - only counting matches against the teams, placed 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th in the group.





Play-offs:

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Format:

8 teams from the Group stage contest 4 places in the 2018 Russia World Cup in a knockout format.



Finals:

8 teams are drawn into 4 pairs.

Winners are decided over two legs.

Hosting is determined by the draw.



Tie-breakers for the knockout matches over two legs:

1. aggregate score from the two legs, 2. away goals, 3. extra time, 4. penalties.



Qualification for FIFA competitions:

the four winners: qualify for the 2018 Russia World Cup