26 of the 32 group stage spots are already decided, before the current qualifiers. But it's not just the extremely wealthy who benefit from it. For some clubs from the weaker leagues, just getting to the group phase is the goal in itself. The Nicosias, the Borisovs, the Ludogorets.
The World Cup may not be the same quality, but it still remains the most revered competition in the world, where pride and honour is at stake, and financial rewards for players are modest. Even in today's 24/7 commercial world, there is still no sponsorship logos permitted on an international shirt during a competitive game. And nobody notices. International football is one of those rare things, where cash isn't king.