Argentina booked their place in the World Cup finals, and now over 20 of the 32 teams due to take part in Russia have been confirmed.
Two-time winners Argentina went into the final round of the South American qualifying section, in real danger of missing out for the first time since 1970 – but a Lionel Messi hat-trick in Ecuador secured their place.
23 of the final 32 teams are taking part in the finals are now known following the latest round of qualifying.
Those teams qualified are holders Germany – who no longer automatically qualify – Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, England, Nigeria, Poland, Egypt, Iceland, Serbia, France, Portugal, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Panama – who join hosts Russia.
They will be joined by four further European teams with Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Croatia, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Greece all due to play-off in November.
Peru – who finished fifth in South America – will also face a play-off as they take on Oceania group winners New Zealand over two legs.
Honduras from the North and Central American section will play-off against Australia from the Asian section.
The final places are in the African section, who do not have play-offs but have three of their five qualifying berths yet to be decided – that will also happen next month.
Despite the fact there are still some teams to be confirmed, Bookmakers see a clear market developing and don’t see anyone winning other than the leading five teams in the market – Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Spain and France.
We spoke to BetVictor’s head of antepost Football Michael Triffitt about the World Cup favourites.
“The usual suspects dominate the betting for the World Cup but further down the list there is still value to be had about a number of lively outsiders,” Triffitt told TheGamblingTimes.com.
“Uruguay at 40 and Colombia at 33 came through qualifying in South America and both should give punters a run for their money .
“Belgium have been well touted for the last few major tournaments and despite flattering to deceive can still field a strong looking 11. If they finally click in Russia 14-1 may prove a good investment for those looking outside the big 5.”