As anticipation builds for next year’s World Cup in Russia, so do the list of teams who have booked their flights for the competition proper.
Eight of the 32 available spots have been taken up despite a further international break in October, as well as all the necessary play-off qualification matches to follow throughout the year.
One of those teams is obviously the hosts, Russia, who were granted qualification when it was first announced that they would be hosting the 2018 World Cup back in December 2010.
Four come from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), one from the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), one from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and one from the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL).
We begin with the side representing CONMEBOL, who also happens to be the most successful nation in the history of the World Cup.
Brazil have been immense on their road to Russia, losing only one game (back in October 2015), drawing four and winning 11 to comfortably sit atop the CONMEBOL qualifying table and clinch a spot at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The five-time World Champions are stacked with talent, boasting Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, who leads their scoring ranks with six goals in 12 appearances, while Paulinho (five goals), Gabriel Jesus (five goals), Willian (four goals) and Philippe Coutinho (four goals) have all chipped in to a side tallying 38 goals from 16 matches.
They enter Russia with a crop of exciting young talent and are surely one of the red-hot favourites to lift the prestigious World Cup next year.
Roberto Martinez has recorded a near-perfect record since taking over as Belgium boss in August 2016, going undefeated in competitive fixtures and booking a place for the Belgian dark horses in Russia next year.
In fact, Belgium are undefeated in World Cup Qualifying, with a 1-1 draw against Greece as the only minor blemish in campaign that has returned an astounding 35 goals in just eight games.
Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku (10 goals from seven appearances) will lead the way when Belgian roll into Russia next year, while the likes of Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Radja Nainggolan are just some of the names that make them one of the most intimidating sides in world football.
Mexico clinched their place in the 2018 finals with three games in hand when they won 1-0 over Panama on Friday night, having gone unbeaten in qualifying and conceding just three goals in eight games.
A defensively resolute record in recent matches is a feat to go with their impressive World Cup record over the years; Mexico have qualified for the Round of 16 in each of the last six tournaments since a Quarter-Final appearance in 1986, and didn’t qualify for the 1990 tournament only because of the ‘cachirules’ scandal, which led to their banning.
Samurai Blue achieved their sixth successive World Cup qualification following a 2-0 victory over Australia on Thursday. They will be looking to go one better than their best-ever finish in a World Cup, which was a Round of 16 appearance in 2002 and 2010.
South Korea squeezed into the World Cup after finishing 2nd to Iran in their qualifying group, nipping in just ahead of Syria. They have never been able to replicate their inspired 2002 performance on home soil, where they made the Semi-Finals.
Saudi Arabia haven’t been seen at a World Cup since a Group Stage showing in the 2006 finals in Germany, but will be in Russia next year after a 1-0 win over already-qualified Japan ultimately proved enough for them to pip Australia for the automatic qualifying spot.