A total of 13 teams have now confirmed their participation at the Qatar World Cup next summer, with a whole host of play-off games to follow in the coming months.
For the first time, a World Cup will take place in the winter months owing to the Gulf state’s climate and it will certainly present a fresh challenge to teams.
UEFA’s group stages ended on Wednesday night with ten European teams through to the tournament proper.
Germany and Denmark (Outright – Germany 10/1, Denmark 33/1) had already qualified in October and they have been joined by France, Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Serbia, England, Switzerland, and the Netherlands from Europe while Brazil and Argentina are through from the CONMEBOL qualifiers.
That means the UEFA play offs will certainly include some big hitters as three more teams from 12 can make it to Qatar.
Euro 2020 winner Italy (Outright 12/1) will be the big draw as they seek to avoid failing to qualify for back-to-back World Cups.
While Roberto Mancini’s men have been in largely excellent form, four draws in the group stage proved costly and a goalless stalemaet at Northern Ireland on Monday paved the way for Switzerland to qualify as they thrashed Bulgaria 4-0.
Euro 2016 winners Portugal (Outright 20/1) will also be a team to avoid through they will feel bruised at the manner of their defeat to Serbia on Sunday.
A point would have seen them through but Aleksandar Mitrovic’s late header meant Serbia advanced instead and Portugal will have work to do to achieve a World Cup place.
Both Scotland and Wales have playoff places and, crucially, the Home Nations pair will be seeded, meaning they will avoid any of the big guns in the first matches.
Steve Clarke’s men were fantastic in dispatching the previously undefeated Denmark on Monday, while Wales held group winners Belgium to a creditable 1-1 draw on Tuesday.
In South America, Ecuador are in the box seat to join Argentina and Brazil in Qatar while below them, only four points separate six teams with just one automatic qualification spot available.
Canada currently lead the way in North and Central America with the USA and Mexico filling up the other automatic spots while the Asian and African qualifiers will not be completed until next year.