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World Cup 2022: 8 big teams who could FAIL to qualify

World Cup 2022
(Image credit: Future)

The World Cup 2022 is just 12 months away - and while the big sides are have all spent the international break booking their places in Qatar, others haven't quite been so lucky.

History tells us that this is common. Four years ago, it was Italy who failed to make a first tournament in a generation, while the USA also failed to qualify. Do you remember the shock in 2002 that the Dutch hadn't made it? The hysteria around England's failed qualification in 1994?

QUIZ! Can you name every country to compete at a FIFA World Cup?

No doubt there will be a few more before big names who don't get to the biggest show on Earth this time around. Imagine the World Cup without the last two Euros winners: that's the scenario we're facing...

1. Italy

Mere months ago, the Azzurri were dancing on the streets of London (responsibly), having clinched a second-ever European Championship title. Now, they're staring down the barrel of missing the last two World Cups.

Italy were unbeaten in qualifying; so it's not like they were bad, but they were sloppy, drawing four of their eight games. They couldn't beat Switzerland in either match - despite walloping them at the Euros - while dropping points to Northern Ireland and Bulgaria hindered hopes of quick qualification.

As one of the seeded teams, they should be okay and get through their path. Still, preparing to face two more teams is not exactly what Roberto Mancini envisaged for 2022.

2. Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo

(Image credit: Getty)

Cristiano Ronaldo will be 37 by the next World Cup - but he might be visiting Qatar as a spectator. 

Again, Portugal haven't been awful in qualifying but the last week has really sucker-punched Os Navegadores. A 0-0 draw in Ireland was followed by Serbia beating the 2016 European champions to an automatic spot, in what was essentially a match to decide the winner.

Aleksandar Mitrovic is in magnetic form right now and couldn't be stopped by a whole team - that's usually Ronaldo's role. 

3. Sweden

Sweden are tricky to break down, resolute and one of the better European nations threatened with extinction from the World Cup qualifying process already. Zlatan Ibrahimovic might be holding out for his final hurrah - but it's not looking good.

The Swedes may have held Spain magnificently at Euro 2020 but two losses to them in qualifying sent them into second spot in their World Cup group. 12 goals in eight games points to a lack of creativity - and though they made the World Cup quarter-finals in 2018, they might have their work cut out to even get there this time.

As a seeded side, Sweden have a relatively easier draw on paper. Still, defeat to Ukraine in Glasgow over the summer suggests that there are no easy games for Zlatan and co.

4. Mexico

Raul Jimenez

(Image credit: Getty)

Mexico have made the Round of 16 at every single World Cup since 1994. They might not make the group stage of 2022's edition.

With eight games played in CONCACAF qualification, El Tri are not where you'd expect. Canada and USA lead the standings with Mexico third, level with Panama and some tricky fixtures coming up. A Michail Antonio-aided Jamaica are next, then Costa Rica - and Mexico still have to host the United States.

Still, the Mexicans have been in tighter scrapes before and will happily take this scenario over 2014. Their defeat on the final day of qualifying back then against Costa Rica meant that Panama needed only to beat the already-qualified US to book a first-ever World Cup adventure. They were nailed on too, leading 2-1 in injury time, before the Americans scored in the 91st and 92nd minutes, to send Mexico in Panama's place.

5. Ivory Coast

Here's one that we already know won't be at the World Cup next year. 

In Africa, teams are put in 10 groups of four: one will make out of each group, before the qualified sides all have one tie against another nation to decide on the five teams from the continent who will make it to Qatar.

So Ivory Coast perhaps feared the worst when they placed into a group with Cameroon. Both teams managed a win each against each other - and so Wilf Zaha and the boys will be kicking themselves that a 0-0 draw with lowly Mozambique is what prevented them from reaching the next round. 

6. Australia


(Image credit: Getty)

Australia aren't exactly a superpower of football but they've been to the last four World Cups - and they were good enough that they had to move continent just so they weren't beating other teams by 20. Typical for a rugby nation, right?

Still, the Socceroos have been put into a qualification group with Japan and Saudi Arabia - the latter of whom are actually weirdly good at getting to World Cups, even if they never do much when they get there. 

They're third at the moment and currently facing United Arab Emirates for a chance to get into a four-team, intercontinental tournament, in which they might have to face New Zealand, Mexico, Peru, Chile or Uruguay. It's not ideal - but at least it's not as bad as 1998, when they were unbeaten in qualifying and still didn't make the World Cup, after going out of a two-legged tie to Iran on away goals. 

7. Chile

Not even Ben Brereton Diaz can guarantee passage to Qatar. 

Chile are currently sitting outside the automatic qualification spots, not even sitting tight in the dreaded inter-confederation play-off position. With two games left to go, they've got to face Colombia and Uruguay.

It's a tall order to win both of those and long gone are the days of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal carrying the team. When Chile failed to qualify for the World Cup last time around, it was a massive shock - now, it's kind of expected that they won't. 

8. Uruguay

Luis Suarez

(Image credit: Getty)

Two-time champions Uruguay have only failed to qualify for the World Cup six times - and they might have to make that seven. They're below Chile in the table, facing them and Paraguay for a chance to make Qatar.

It's not the first time Uruguay have struggled in qualifying, mind. In 2014, La Celeste failed to win any of their first five away games and conceded four goals away to Bolivia and Colombia. It was their unbeaten home record that ensured they finished fifth to secure a play-off against Jordan.

It's going to be an uphill struggle again. Will we be robbed of Luis Suarez capping off an international career with another ridiculous moment?

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