We’ll take a look at a few nations that will not take any part in the finals in Russia. I’ll start the list in ascending order of relevance.
The US wouldn’t have made the list but for the fact that I live here now and follow the team. In global terms, the USMNT (that’s US Men’s National Team) hasn’t done anything in the last few editions to make them a relevant team. Costa Rica and Mexico from the CONCACAF division has done more. Costa Rica in 2014 topped their group of Uruguay, Italy, and England and then went on to lose to Netherlands in the quarters on penalties. With a current ranking of 24, the US laughably sits one spot above Los Ticos, while the latter will be making merry in Russia. The US came in 5th in the Hex, behind Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Honduras, and didn’t even make the play-off.
The team going forward will be built around Christian Pulisic, the most technically gifted footballer the nation has produced. Ever.
3. The Netherlands
What a fall for the mighty Oranje, finalists from 2010 and destroyer of Spain in the first game in the last World Cup, with Van Persie’s “Flying Dutchman” goal. They couldn’t even make it to the play off round from their group, coming in third behind France and Sweden. My personal favourite team on the world stage, I’ll have to fall back on the Albiceleste to go all the way.
Robben, Sneijder, Van Persie et all had been carrying this team for far too long. The future will be looking to Memphis Depay.
Winner of the last two editions of Copa America, incidentally beating Argentina both times on penalties in the final, Chile will be the second most high profile nation to miss out on the quadrennial event. Boasting of households names such as Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez, and fielding a solid team, Chile was in a good position going into the last match-day of qualifications. They had to avoid losing to Brazil or hope Columbia beat Peru. Instead, Chile lost 0-3 and Peru drew 1-1. Peru and Chile ended up on the same points, with Peru ending on 5th place due to better goal difference. Peru went into the inter-continental play-off and Chile was left wondering. Also read about the fascinating back-story behind Peru and Chile’s campaign.
Italy missed out on a World Cup for the first time since 1958. That’s 60 years! Buffon will not get a chance to aim for a second World Cup trophy. Curious man management by Gian Piero Ventura, who’s being blasted as the worst gaffer ever, where he didn’t play red-hot Lorenzo Insigne in either of the two legged play-off with Sweden. Italy didn’t score a single goal in over 180 minutes of open play. After having finished second in their group behind Spain, they were handed a not too unfavourable draw against the Swedes but couldn’t muster up enough firepower, or willpower, to get to the finals.