An intimidating group? Spain and Portugal stand out as the two favourites to progress, but in Iran and Morocco they have been drawn against two tricky teams who are absolutely capable of bloodying noses. Morocco were the only African nation to qualify without conceding a goal, and their sturdy defence will be required if they are to make it through, while Iran have Saman Ghoddos, the Ostersunds attacker who is obviously used to causing upsets. The European sides should go through, but it won't...
LISBON -- Madonna was in the crowd at Estadio da Luz as Portugal sealed their place at the World Cup, and you can be sure she was not there to watch Switzerland.
The pop icon, whose adopted son David Banda is a member of Benfica's youth academy, knows all about star quality, and this was a night that saw Cristiano Ronaldo perform on his home stage with the expectation that he would inspire Portugal to the victory needed to claim qualification.
In the end, it did not quite work out like that. Portugal...
On the face of it, World Cup qualification should be a fairly straightforward equation for both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
For Ronaldo and European champions Portugal it's simple against Switzerland in Lisbon on Tuesday: Turn up, win, qualify. For Messi and Argentina, a win in Ecuador on the same day would seal a playoff against New Zealand, and perhaps automatic qualification if other results go their way.
But it is never quite as simple as that in football. Messi and Ronaldo are now discovering...
World Cup qualifying is drawing to a close, but some stellar names could miss Russia 2018. We see who could be watching the action from their couch next summer.
Argentina: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Mauro Icardi, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Mascherano
The list of talent available to coach Jorge Sampaoli is obscene, yet Argentina are still in big, big trouble. A World Cup without Barcelona superstar Messi would be bad enough, but the other names...
There is a piece of Cristiano Ronaldo history which lies beneath an office block and car park in Lisbon. You wouldn't know it's there. In fact, there isn't so much as a passing mention of the landmark moment, with bricks and mortar now covering the former Jose de Alvalade Stadium where Ronaldo announced himself on the world stage, scoring his first-ever professional goal in a career that now stands at 612 goals ... and counting.
This Saturday marks the 15th anniversary of Ronaldo's first-ever competitive...
The final rounds of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup take place between Oct. 5 and Oct. 10.
The nine group winners qualify automatically, with the other four places decided by playoffs between the eight best runners-up.
Group B: 2. Portugal, 21 points (a-Andorra, h-Switzerland)
Three points behind leaders Switzerland, Portugal have a vastly superior goal difference so Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. know two victories will win the group.
Click here for other UEFA teams' qualifying chances.