2014 FIFA World Cup - UEFA Qualifying 

European qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup began on 7 September 2012 and will run through 19 November 2013, consisting of 53 teams. They compete in a group stage and a play-off round, which will eventually provide 13 UEFA member nations for the 32-team final tournament in Brazil, scheduled for 12 June through 13 July 2014.

For the qualifying group stage, the 53 teams have been divided into eight groups of six teams and one group of five. The World Cup Preliminary Draw for the qualification groups was conducted on 30 July 2011 at the Marina da Glória in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The seeding criteria for the drawing was based upon the FIFA World Rankings at the time, with the first “pot” consisting of the top nine teams so that they need not face one another in the group stage.

In order of ranking with their group assignments in parentheses, those top-ranked nine teams were Spain (I), Netherlands (D), Germany(C), England (H), Portugal (F), Italy (B), Croatia (A), Norway (E) and Greece (G). Group matches continue through 15 October 2013, with the nine group winners qualifying directly for the finals.

The eight runners-up with the best record against the teams finishing first, third, fourth and fifth in their section will go into the play-offs. Because one group has one team fewer than the others, matches against the last-placed team in each of the six-team groups are not included in this ranking. As a result, eight matches played by each team will count for the purposes of the second-placed table.

The second round draw will take place at the headquarters of FIFA in Zurich on 21 October 21. For the purpose of seeding, October’s World rankings will be used. The eight that advance will be drawn into four pairings for two-legged ties (home/away) played from 15 to 19 November 2013. Should scores be level after the second leg, the team with the most away goals will qualify, whether after 90 minutes or extra time. Only the four winners qualify for the finals to fill out the 13 UEFA member nations.

As of mid-July 2013, three of the 53 teams had already been eliminated from possible qualification, namely Faroe Islands, San Marino and Scotland. An additional nine teams were no longer able to qualify directly, including Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Wales. No team had yet qualified outright nor had any team clinched a playoff spot.

With at least six of ten group matches played, the teams in best position to win their groups were those with at least 10 table points already accumulated. By group, they include Belgium and Croatia (A); Italy and Bulgaria (B); Germany, Austria, Sweden and Ireland (C); Netherlands, Hungary and Romania (D); Switzerland and Albania (E); Portugal, Russia and Israel (F); Bosnia & Herzegovina and Greece (G); Montenegro, England and Ukraine (H); and Spain and France (I).

As for the allocation of the other 19 slots for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, one goes automatically to Brazil as the host nation, and the other 18 are divided among other recognised football confederations as follows: 4.5 to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), 5.0 to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), 3.5 to the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), 4.5 to the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) and 0.5 to the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC). To date, Japan, Australia, Iran and South Korea have already qualified within their confederations.

Once all 32 competing teams have been identified, they will be drawn into eight groups of four. Following a group round, the top two from each group will go into the final knockout phase.

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