World Cup 2022: 10 big teams who could follow Italy and also fail to qualify

(Image credit: Getty)

The World Cup 2022 is just months away - and while some big sides have already booked their places in Qatar, others haven't quite been so lucky.

History tells us that this is common. Four years ago, Italy failed to make a first tournament in a generation – surely that couldn't happen again – while the USA also missed out. 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. Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo

(Image credit: Getty)

Cristiano Ronaldo is 37 and this will almost certainly be his last World Cup… if Portugal manage to get there. 

Again, they haven't been awful in qualifying but their last week of qualifying 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. 

2. Ghana

The Africa Cup of Nations was a complete disaster for Ghana. Their group stage exit was a huge shock – and they could well follow it up with a failure to reach the World Cup in Qatar. 

Ghana have to go and beat Nigeria away from home in order to reach the tournament – which isn't exactly easy. They didn't make the last World Cup but after three competitions in a row from 2006 to 2014, with some of the best performances from African sides that anyone had ever seen, it's a hell of a comedown to fail to reach two in a row. 

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 pointed to a lack of creativity – and though they made the World Cup quarter-finals in 2018, they have their work cut out to even get there this time.

A battle against Poland will decide their fate. It's Zlatan against Lewangoalski for a spot in Qatar. 

4. USA

Raul Jimenez

(Image credit: Getty)

America didn't make the last Soccer World Series but despite the breakthrough of talent that they've had, with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest and Zack Steffen, they could well miss out on another tournament. 

The United States sit in second place on 22 points, with Mexico level in third and Costa Rica three points behind in fourth – but with two games left against Costa Rica and Panama, it could squeaky bum time. A loss away to Costa Rica will let them back into the mix.

“I have no doubt in my mind they’ll qualify for the next World Cup. No doubt,” said Bruce Arena when asked of the USMNT's chances. Still, he was the coach the last time…

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, United States, Peru or Chile. 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 outside the automatic qualification spots, not even sitting tight in the dreaded inter-confederation playoff position. 

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. Colombia


(Image credit: PA)

…Still, Chile aren't alone in South America as a nation on the slide after recent success.

Colombia were a surprise package in 2014 and made the knockouts four years ago. But in the same boat as Chile, a team that no longer pick the mercurial James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao as duel talismans may struggle. 

9. Senegal

Mohamed Salah

(Image credit: Getty)

Senegal managed to beat Egypt to win the Africa Cup of Nations, as Sadio Mane got one over on his Liverpool colleague, Mohamed Salah. Salah might just be about to avenge his mate, though.

Egypt are one up after the first leg in a play-off to get to Qatar. The African champions were superb in the winter but with two strong teams facing off against one another, they'll be a big upset either way.

10. Cameroon

Cameroon have made seven of the last 10 World Cups. They didn't reach the 2018 tournament and for the first time since their first-ever appearance, they're facing the prospect of missing two in a row.

The Indomitable Lions have to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Algeria away from home in order to get to Qatar. Although while Cameroon have a big reputation within football, they statistically the worst team in 2014 and the second-worst in 2014. Maybe it's not such a surprise after all. 

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.