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Preliminary FIFA World Cup Qualifying for Bayern Munich Players

With 14 representatives at the 2014 World Cup, Bayern have the potential to have more after 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

A full year removed from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA began preparations for the 2018 tournament with the preliminary draw on Saturday. Five of the six confederations received their first opponents on the path to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

With nine countries currently represented in Bayern Munich's team, the draw was good news for some, while cautionary news for others. The path to the World Cup will not be as straight forward as years past, with all six countries with Bayern representatives having to play in UEFA groups with six countries. However, several players yet to receive senior caps with their countries could now have an opportunity to get action against weaker opponents.

Here is how the draw played out for the current squad of Bayern players.

AUT Crest Austria

UEFA Group D Qualifying Opponents: Georgia, Moldova, Republic of Ireland, Serbia, Wales
Bayern Player: David Alaba

Austria will really like their chances in this wide open group with their recent qualifying record for the European Championships and World Cup. Alaba will have a lot of say in whether his country can qualify outright, but will have some legitimate competition from the British isles. A box-to-box midfielder for his country, he is the best sharpshooter Austria has, and the continued maturation of Zlatko Junuzović and Marko Arnautović may alleviate the burden that is on his shoulders.

BRA Crest Brazil

CONMEBOL Qualifying Match Day 1 Opponent: Chile
Bayern Players: Dante, Douglas Costa, Rafinha

With just ten members, CONMEBOL has just one round of qualifying in a 10-team round-robin style competition. Brazil will start with Copa America Champions Chile, a big clash that could include two Bayern teammates going up against each other: Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal. Douglas may have an opening to make a good impression with Neymar suspended for two more matches. Once part of the Seleçao in qualifying and the World Cup Final, Dante's and Rafinha's national team days are probably behind them.

Shirt badge/Association crest Denmark

UEFA Group E Qualifying Opponents: Armenia, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Poland, Romania
Bayern Player: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg

Participating in the UEFA Euro U21s over the summer, Højbjerg will get the chance to help Denmark return to the World Cup after missing out in Brazil. As he improves, he is rising above the veteran competition standing in his way. He will have to rub elbows with Lewandowski as well as upswing Romania to get a spot outright for the World Cup.

Shirt badge/Association crest Germany

UEFA Group C Qualifying Opponents: Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, San Marino
Bayern Players: Holger Badstuber, Jérôme Boateng, Gianluca Gaudino, Mario Götze, Joshua Kimmich, Sinan Kurt, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Sebastian Rode

The World Cup champions already have a clear path to Russia in their title defense, getting grouped into the group of life in UEFA qualifying. That is not only good news for trophy-lifters currently in the squad, but also younger players wanting a chance to be part of the 23-man squad heading to Russia. With countries such as Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland, and San Marino on the docket, fringe midfielders such as Kimmich and Rode might finally get their chance to prove their worth in qualifying.

MOR Crest Morocco

CAF Qualifying Round 2 Opponent: Equatorial Guinea
Bayern Player: Medhi Benatia

Ironic, how the country who backed out of hosting the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco, will square off against the country who ended up hosting it, Equatorial Guinea, as both try to qualify for the World Cup. Benatia is the soul of the Moroccan defense, as well as the captain of the country. He is also looking to qualify for his first World Cup, hoping to bring the Atlas Lions to their first World Cup since 1998.

NED Crest Netherlands

UEFA Group A Qualifying Opponents: Belarus, Bulgaria, France, Luxembourg, Sweden
Bayern Player: Arjen Robben

While playing France and Sweden may not be a big deal on a one-off basis, the fact remains the Netherlands will have to finish above one or both of them in order to qualify for the World Cup again. That may cause Danny Blind to kiss Robben's boot until he promises not to retire until after the 2018 World Cup. How much Bayern's flying dutchman plays depends on his fitness though, but he does have the potential to carry the Oranje at least to the group stage in Russia.


UEFA Group E Qualifying Opponents: Armenia, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Romania
Bayern Player: Robert Lewandowski

Having not qualified in the last two World Cups, Poland got a nice little break in another wide-open group. That said, if they want to finish above Denmark and Romania, head coach Adam Nawałka is going to have to find a way to get Lewandowski the service and support he needs. Most of the time, Lewandowski has to manufacture his own chances when donning his nation's colors, and that is not a formula that is going to get Poland a spot at the World Cup finals.


UEFA Group G Qualifying Opponents: Albania, Italy, Israel, Liechtenstein, Macedonia
Bayern Players: Juan Bernat, Javi Martínez, Thiago Alcântara

The only country Spain could be drawn with that makes their record in their recent World Cup record look good is Italy, and the two will certainly have it out to qualify outright for the World Cup. Bernat, Martínez, and Thiago are already part of the next generation of Spanish talent, but fitness and inexperience are preventing all three of them from becoming integral Spanish players. That is what makes the World Cup qualifying most fascinating for them, for they have 10 matches to establish themselves in what will be a redeeming Spain team.

USA Crest United States

CONCACAF Qualifying Round 4 Opponents: Trinidad and Tobago; St. Vincent and the Grenadines or Aruba; Antigua and Barbuda or Guatemala
Bayern Player: Julian Green

The United States has qualified for each of the last seven World Cups, and they are one of the top ranked teams in CONCACAF. Though Green made the trip to Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, he may miss out on the beginning stages of qualifying as he tries to help the United States qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

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