World Cup 2018: Who Will Qualify for Russia This Weekend?

England officially qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia last night, beating Slovenia 1-0 to top the group with a game still left to play.

Current world champions Germany has also already qualified, along with seven other sides including Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea.

But other nations are yet to secure a spot and there are upsets on the cards if they do not perform.

The Netherlands

The three-time World Cup runner-up is balancing on the edge of qualification for the finals and will need to win all its remaining games to have any chance of making it to Russia next year.

Having won only half of its games so far—having suffered a heavy defeat by France in August—the Dutch team face bottom of the table Belarus tomorrow in Borisov. It should be a comfortable win but Sweden on Tuesday will be a challenging clash that will decide which team secures a play-off position.

France

The hosts of Euro 2016 lead Group A by only a single point, France will need to secure at least a win on Saturday away to Bulgaria in order to settle manager Didier Deschamps' nerves.

He will be confident in his team, though, with star players such as Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar shining in the Champions League recently.

But the French will have to shake off the last result, a 0-0 draw with Luxembourg, and be clinical on Saturday to increase the pressure on the rest of those in Group A hoping to secure a play-off spot.

If France fails to win the last two games in their group, Sweden and Holland could both pounce and beat the French to Russia.

Italy

In a two-horse race with the Spaniards for qualification in Group G, Italy will be desperate for a win against Macedonia.

Gian Piero Ventura can only hope Spain drops points in its last two matches for any chance at winning the group—if the Italians cannot manage a draw at the Stadio Olimpico tonight, the team will not even guarantee second place in the group.

Portugal

The Euro 2016 champions face Andorra away on Saturday, with three points to make up on Switzerland who lead Group B.

Portugal must at least match Switzerland's result to keep hopes alive of top spot, otherwise they will be staring down the prospect of missing out on the chance to become simultaneous European and World champions.

Croatia

In what is turning out to be the toughest-fought of all the battles for top spot, the Croatian team is far from securing a place at the finals next year.

Croatia only leads the group with a superior goal difference to Iceland, with Ukraine and Turkey both only two points behind.

The team faces Finland at home tonight followed by a vital encounter in Ukraine on Monday. Iceland plays Turkey tonight but end with an easier fixture against bottom team Kosovo on Monday.

Spain

Spain has progressed through the World Cup qualifiers with a point to prove after going out of Euro 2016 at the quarterfinal stage.

They are yet to lose a match going into the weekend and the clash against Albania tonight would provide a comfortable points cushion with only one game remaining.

On the other hand, if Italy win tonight and Spain fail to do so, both nations would be on equal points going into the last qualifier on Monday.

This means that the top spot in Group G is still all to play for and could see one of the European footballing giants face strong opposition in a play-off scenario to secure their path to Russia.

Sweden

The Swedes are currently second in Group A, a point behind leaders France, and host Luxembourg on Saturday.

If Sweden wins, a top two finish will be confirmed; should they lose and the Netherlands beat Belarus, the Swedes will be on equal points to the Dutch and risk losing out on the chance for a play-off spot and consequently a place in the finals.

Join the Discussion