As the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is only a year away, more attention is being focused on who will join the hosts in the competition, with most of the major teams looking good for qualification.
Each of FIFA’s six confederations, with the exception of Oceania whose leading side will play off against the fourth-best team from North America, will have at least one representative in the tournament, but very few look nailed on to make it with a few games still left to play.
Here, we round up the story so far in each continent and see which teams are ready to book a return flight and hotel in the home of the five-time World Cup Champions:
13 places are up for grabs, with the nine group winners making it at the first attempt. The eight best runners-up will be put into four play-off games, with the victors winning a place.
So far, the only two teams which look to be almost assured of making the World Cup next year are the Netherlands, who have a seven point lead at the top of their group and Germany, who enjoy a five point advantage over second-placed Austria and the Republic of Ireland.
Either Belgium or Croatia will win Group A, with Italy looking fairly comfortable in Group B. A promising Switzerland should win Group E, but Group F featuring Portugal, Russia and Israel is too close to call.
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece look like duking it out in Group G, while any one of England, Montenegro, Ukraine and Poland could still top Group H. The footballing superpowers of Spain and France are separated by just one point in Group I.
The format in the Conmebol qualifiers is much simpler – the top four qualify automatically with the fifth-placed side taking on the winner of the fifth-placed play-off in the Asian qualifiers.
As it stands, Argentina look pretty strong at the top of the table with a five point lead over Colombia and Ecuador, although both teams have a game in hand. A further two points behind are Chile, although they look far from secure.
They’re being chased by a much-improved Venezuela, Peru and an underachieving Uruguay side, who are five points behind Chile but like Peru have a game in hand. Bolivia and Paraguay look like missing out.
After a string of preliminary qualifiers, just six teams are left to fight it out for three automatic spots, while the fourth-placed team will take on the Oceanic qualifying leaders.
Right now, Costa Rica, the USA and Mexico are all tied on seven points, with the latter having played a game more. However, Panama are only a point behind, while Honduras are just three adrift with a game in hand on Mexico too. Jamaica look unlikely to make it.
A massive 10 groups of four teams will play each other twice, with the winners taking part in a play-off fixture to determine who makes it to Brazil. With five places to play for, some big names could miss out.
Each group has two remaining fixtures, and no team has managed to secure their place yet. The Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Egypt and Congo are in the box seat in their groups, but the others are still too close to call.
In Group A, Ethiopia and South Africa are just two points apart, while Zambia and a hugely-talented Ghana team are just a point apart in Group D. Nigeria, despite leading Group F, are just two points ahead of Malawi, and Algeria and Mali are the two main challengers in Group H.
The most exciting groups are I and J, where all four teams are separated by just two points! The former includes Libya, Cameroon and Togo, while the latter is only just being led by Senegal, with Uganda, Angola and Liberia providing stern competition.
Two groups of five compete in the final qualifying round, with the top two from each through automatically. The third-placed teams will meet for the chance to compete with the fifth-placed South American side in a final play-off.
Japan were the first side to seal their place in the World Cup after the hosts, sealing the deal after a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Australia in Group B. Curiously, the Socceroos are in third place with just seven points, although they have a game in hand on Oman in second.
Group A is more complicated, with South Korea top on goal difference on 11 points. Uzbekistan currently find themselves in second place, with Iran a point behind. Qatar in fourth spot will need a miracle to snatch third place at least.
A final group of four teams has been played out, with New Zealand securing top spot courtesy of six consecutive wins. The Kiwis are the only team to have a squad packed with professional players, and will face the fifth best Asian qualifier.