FIFA 2018 World Cup: Which teams have qualified?

Lionel Messi's Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal became the latest sides to qualify for next summer's World Cup in Russia.

Argentina qualified for its 12th successive World Cup finals.   -  AP

Lionel Messi's first World Cup qualification hat-trick helped Argentina reach its 12th successive World Cup finals with a 3-1 win over Ecuador on Tuesday. His rival Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal also booked its ticket for the summer event in Russia after it beat Switzerland 2-0 in Lisbon.

So far, 23 countries have confirmed their participation in the 32-team World Cup. We take a look at how these countries managed the feat.

Europe

Belgium became the first European side to join the host Russia, with a near unblemished record in its qualifiers. The Red Devils with 39 goals are the highest goal scorers in the European qualifiers so far, including scorelines of 8-1 and 9-0 home wins over Estonia and Gibraltar respectively.

Joachim Loew's Germany followed suit when it dispatched Northern Ireland 3-1, maintaining a 100% record in the qualifiers, the only side to do so in Europe.

While scoring goals a plenty, it also tightened its defense throughout the campaign — conceding only three goals.

England topped Group F with 23 points with Tottenham Hotspur striker Kane spearheading the side with four goals from five games.

Spain, too, made the draw when it finished top of Group G without much fuss under new coach Julen Lopetegui. It has now qualified for its 11th successive World Cup finals.

Robert Lewandowski scored a European qualifying record 16th goal as Poland defeated Montenegro 4-2 to qualify for its first finals since 2006.

Iceland created history when it topped its Group I and became the smallest nation - in terms of population - in World Cup history to qualify. This will also be the island nation's first ever participation in the World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal confirmed a direct spot when it defeated group leaders Switzerland 2-0 with the help of an Johan Djourou own goal, followed by an Andre Silva goal. Ronaldo scored 15 goals in the campaign.

France and Serbia also confirmed its qualification on Tuesday with wins over Belarus and Georgia.

Sweden, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Repubic of Ireland, Denmark, Slovakia, Italy, Greece and Croatia have reached the play-offs stages and four sides will progress to finals over two-legged ties.

 

Africa

Nigeria is the only nation to confirm its qualification from the continent when it topped its group — comprising Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia — on Saturday. Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi scored the winner against Zambia.

While, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah converted a stoppage-time penalty to give Egypt a dramatic 2-1 win over Congo Brazzaville and a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It qualified for the finals for the first time since 1990.

Asia

After four stages of qualification, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Iran and Korea Republic have booked their tickets to Russia 2018. Mohammad Al-Sahlawi scored 16 goals to fire Saudi Arabia to its first World Cup since 2006. Iran became the first side to qualify from the AFC region.

North, Central America and Caribbean

Mexico qualified on September 1, after topping the group in the fifth round qualification. Costa Rica became the 13th team to confirm qualification; it left it late, but earned its due levelling scores (1-1) against Honduras at home.

Panama became the third side from the CONCACAF region to reach the finals with the help of a goal which never appeared to cross the line against Costa Rica. The win took it over Honduras, which made the play-offs and U.S.A, which lost to Trinidad and Tobago.

South America

In March this year, Brazil became the first side — after host Russia — to make it to the mega event. PSG's Neymar scored six goals to ensure the five-team winner's direct qualification as it topped the 10-nation qualifying group.

Argentina leapfrogged from a sixth position to end up third at the end of the CONMEBOL qualifiers. It rode on the back of Lionel Messi's hat-trick in a must win away fixture against Ecuador.

Uruguay qualified finishing second on the table with 31 points. Edinson Cavani was on point to score the winner, his 10th of the campaign, against Bolivia to seal qualification. Suarez scored a brace to take his South American qualifier goal scoring record to 21 goals - the most with Messi.

Colombia became the fourth side to join the top three sides with a 1-1 draw with Peru, while the latter finished fifth to reach the play-offs.