Here is the first batch of the national football teams who won their respective confederation qualifying matches (or who became runner ups) from March 2017 to September 2017 and grabbed a spot to the 2018 FIFA World Cup (including the host Russia).
Previous Appearances: 10 (1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 2002, 2014)
Russia has participated in 10 FIFA World Cups, 7 of which were as the Soviet Union. Their best performance was as the Soviet Union, reaching 4th place in England 1966. Russia’s best performance after the dissolution of the Soviet Union was 18th place in the 1994 FIFA World Cup, hosted by the United States of America.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s side will be the fourth Russia team to play at a World Cup – they first appeared at USA ’94 – although the Soviet Union had finished fourth in 1966.
Previous Appearances: 20 (1930, 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2014) Winners (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
Brazil is the most successful national team in the history of the World Cup, having won five titles, earning second-place, third-place and fourth-place finishes twice each. Brazil is one of the countries besides Argentina, Spain and Germany to win a FIFA World Cup away from its continent (Sweden 1958, Mexico 1970, USA 1994 and South Korea/Japan 2002). Brazil is the only national team to have played in all FIFA World Cup editions without any absence nor need for playoffs. Brazil has also the best overall performance in World Cup history in both proportional and absolute terms with a record of 70 victories in 104 matches played, 119 goal difference, 227 points and only 17 losses.
Traditionally, Brazil’s greatest rival is Argentina. The two countries have met each other four times in the history of the FIFA World Cup, with two wins for Brazil (West Germany 1974 and Spain 1982), one for Argentina (Italy 1990) and a draw (Argentina 1978). The country that played most against Brazil in the finals is Sweden: 7 times, with five wins for Brazil and two draws. Three other historical rivals are Italy, which lost two World Cup finals against Brazil and eliminated the Brazilians in two tournaments (France 1938 and Spain 1982), France, which has eliminated Brazil on three occasions (Mexico 1986, France 1998 and Germany 2006), and the Netherlands which has eliminated Brazil at two of their five meetings (West Germany 1974 and South Africa 2010) and has won the third place match in Brazil 2014.
Previous Appearances: 4 (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014)
Iran have appeared in the finals of the FIFA World Cup on five occasions in 1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, and 2018.
This is the fifth time Iran have qualified for a World Cup, but their only victory in the tournament remains a 2-1 win over the United States at France ’98.
Previous Appearances: 5 (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
Japan have appeared in the finals of the FIFA World Cup on five occasions, the first being in 1998 where they lost all three group games and finished in 31st position. Masashi Nakayama scored Japan’s first ever goal in a World Cup Finals against Jamaica on 26 June 1998 in a 2-1 defeat.
They will make their sixth appearance at the finals in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Previous Appearances: 15 (1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1978, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
The Mexico national team has competed in the tournament since the inaugural 1930 FIFA World Cup, and has entered ever since, for a total of 15 tournaments, although it has failed to qualify for the finals proper on 3 occasions, 1934 (Italy), 1974 (Germany) and 1982 (Spain). In addition, it withdrew from the finals in the 1938 (France), and was banned by FIFA from entering the 1990 (Italy) after having been found fielding over-aged players during the 1988 Olympic Games qualifiers which was a youth tournament.
Previous Appearances: 12 (1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2014)
Belgium have appeared in the finals tournament of the FIFA World Cup on twelve occasions, the first being at the first in 1930 where they finished in eleventh place.
Traditionally, Belgium’s greatest rival is Netherlands. The two countries have met each other twice in the history of the FIFA World Cup, with one win for Belgium (USA 1994) and one tie (France 1998). The team that played most against Belgium in the finals is the continuum USSR-Russia: 5 times, with three victories for Belgium and two for the Soviet Union.
Belgium reached six successive World Cups from 1982 through 2002 by playing qualification rounds, a record bettered only by Spain whose 2014 World Cup is their eighth consecutive qualification (a streak going back to 1986). On top of that, in that era the Belgian team reached the second phase five out of six times. The preceding five participations between 1930 and 1970 were not as successful, as Belgium never survived the first round. After two scoreless defeats at the inaugurational World Cup in 1930, Belgium scored their first two World Cup goals in 1934 against Germany, by virtue of Bernard Voorhoof. However, both in 1934 and 1938 the Red Devils went out with a single loss. In 1954 they held England at a tie (4–4) and in 1970 they achieved their first World Cup win, against El Salvador (3–0).
Having failed to qualify for the previous two tournaments, Belgium reached the quarter-finals at Brazil 2014, losing to eventual runners-up Argentina. The Red Devils’ best finish was fourth in 1986.
Previous Appearances: 9 (1954, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
South Korea have appeared in the finals of the FIFA World Cup on nine occasions in 1954 and 1986 to 2014. Their best ever performance is a fourth place in the 2002 tournament held in Korea and Japan.
No Asian team has a better World Cup pedigree than the side nicknamed the Taegeuk Warriors. South Korea’s goalless draw against Uzbekistan secured a place at a 10th finals and the tournament in Russia will be the ninth World Cup in a row in which they have featured.
Previous Appearances: 4 (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)
Saudi Arabia have appeared in the finals of the FIFA World Cup on five occasions, in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2018.
Saudi Arabia’s only victories at a World Cup came in their first appearance in 1994, when they won two group matches and reached the second round. Their second win – 1-0 against Belgium – featured one of the greatest goals of all time when forward Saeed Al Owairan ran from his own half and beat half the Belgian defence to score.