Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez: The stars who could miss the 2018 World Cup

A number of familiar faces are in danger of missing the 2018 Russian World Cup, with Argentina, Portugal and Chile all yet to qualify for next summer's tournament

Luke Brown
Monday 09 October 2017 12:10
Ronaldo and Messi could both miss out on the World Cup
Ronaldo and Messi could both miss out on the World Cup

Qualification for the 2018 World Cup is drawing to a close and some of the world’s top nations are in danger of missing out.

While countries such as Brazil, Spain, England and defending champions Germany have booked their place in Russia next summer, a number of countries you would expect to see playing at a World Cup are struggling.

And that means the Russian World Cup could be bereft of some of the world’s best players – including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alexis Sanchez.

Some of the world's best players are in danger of missing out on Russia 2018

Here we take a look at the countries in danger of missing out and what they need to do to make it to next summer’s tournament.

Already qualified

Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Egypt, England, Germany, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Russia (hosts), Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain.

Will fancy their chances


Australia need to beat Syria in their next match

Players who could miss out: Mile Jedinak, Matt McKay, Adam Federici

Australia drew the first-leg of their playoff against Syria 1-1. Needless to say, they have to win that match to advance to a further playoff, which will likely be against either Panama or Honduras. But they will expect to make it through.

United States

The United States look to be back on track

Clint Dempsey, Christian Pulisic, Geoff Cameron, Tim Howard

The USA have made hard work of qualifying for the Russian World Cup – but should be okay. Panama could yet catch them and beat them to the playoff round, but the USA’s fate is in their own hands and if they win their next match against Trinidad and Tobago, they will go through.

In the balance


Ronaldo's Portugal will likely end up in the playoffs

Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Andre Gomes, Pepe

Portugal trail Switzerland in Group A, with the group leaders meeting in the final match of qualifying. If Portugal win they go through to next summer’s tournament automatically. If they draw or lose, the playoffs await.


Buffon is hoping to lead Italy to Russia

Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Lorenzo Insigne, Gianluigi Buffon

Italy can no longer catch Spain at the top of Group G, meaning that they will have to reach the tournament via the playoffs. They’re likely to be seeded for the playoff match, meaning Italy will likely fancy their chances.

On the brink

Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast have to win their next match

Serge Aurier, Eric Bailly, Salomon Kalou, Wilfried Bony

The Ivory Coast have qualified for the last three World Cups – but are in serious danger of missing out on making it to Russia. Morocco sit above them in their qualification group with just one game left to play. The two nations meet in a straight shootout next month and if the Ivory Coast fail to win they are out.


Messi could miss out on the World Cup next summer

Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Javier Mascherano, Nicolas Otamendi

Lionel Messi is in serious danger of missing next summer’s World Cup. Argentina’s recent 0-0 draw with Peru means that Argentina need to beat Ecuador in their final qualifier to set up a two-legged playoff against New Zealand. There is a slim chance they would go through without winning – but it’s unlikely.


Alexis could miss out on next summer's World Cup

Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Charles Aránguiz, Claudio Bravo

Chile have it all to do. They managed to beat Ecuador last time out but now have to win in Brazil to make sure of their place at the World Cup. A draw would more than likely give them a playoff place. But if they lose, they will fail to qualify if both Argentina and Paraguay win.

Missing out


Van Persie won't be in Russia come next summer

Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Stefan de Vrij, Michel Vorm

The Netherlands need to beat Sweden by seven goals in their final qualifier to ensure a spot in the playoffs. Spoiler alert: it’s not going to happen. It will be the second successive international tournament the Netherlands have missed, and the first World Cup since the 2002 finals in Japan and South Korea.

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