The qualifiers for the Russia 2018 World Cup have seen plenty of surprises, including Iceland and Egypt. Next year’s tournament will be very interesting with teams that haven’t participated in a while. But the tournament will also be missing teams that have been strong contenders recently. Here are all the surprises of the qualifiers and what’s next for the teams in the wild card spots:
The Big Absences
Netherlands was one of the first to be left out of the tournament, despite winning against Sweden. The team needed to win but with a huge difference. The 2 – 0 win against Sweden was not enough and Netherlands will miss the tournament after having good runs in 2014 and 2010.
One of the most surprising eliminations came in the CONMEBOL qualifiers. Those qualifiers reached the last week with just one team qualified, Brazil. Argentina, Peru, Chile, Paraguay and Colombia all entered the week needing a win or at least a draw to qualify. Chile appeared to be nearly in the tournament but a draw between Colombia and Peru left them out by goal difference. The one goal difference added pressure to the two time Copa America champions and they never got the goal needed. Paraguay also missed a huge chance by losing at home to Venezuela. Three points would have put them in the wild card spot.
The US is also among the teams that won’t be at the 2018 World Cup. A loss to Trinidad and Tobago and a win from Panama left them out of the tournament. It is the first time since 1986 that the US misses a World Cup. Bruce Arena recently announced that he would be leaving his position as manager of the US national team.
Here are some of the stars that will miss the World Cup:
Arjen Robben – Netherlands won its match against Sweden but the goal difference wasn’t enough. Robben has announced his retirement from international football.
Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey – Wales barely missed out on a playoff spot after a 1 – 0 loss to Ireland.
Jan Oblak and Hamsik – The star goalkeeper and midfielder are out of the tournament after Slovakia failed to land in the playoff spots.
Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez – The two stars will miss the tournament after Peru ended in the playoff spot by goal difference. Vidal announced his retirement from international football shortly after the South American qualifiers ended.
Christian Pulisic – The Borussia Dortmund star shined during the qualifiers but a loss to Trinidad and Tobago left the US team out of the tournament for the first time since 1986.
The Surprises of The Qualifiers
The qualifiers saw the favorites such as Germany, Spain, Brazil and many others easily advance to the World Cup. But the tournament will also feature teams we haven’t seen in a while.
Egypt qualified for the tournament after 27 years. The team played well, with stars such as Salah helping them get points.
Another surprise was Iceland, which had already impressed at Euro 2016. They became the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup.
Panama will also be in the tournament for the first time and the country went crazy after it was all confirmed. Panama’s president even declared a public holiday after the win.
The 2018 World Cup already has many teams waiting for the groups to be announced but there are some that still have to play the playoff. The two matches are Australia vs. Honduras and Peru vs. New Zealand. The playoff draw for Europe will take place on October 17. Denmark, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Croatia and Ireland are all in the playoffs. Slovakia finished second in its group but its record left it out of the playoffs.
The draw for the group stage of the World Cup will take place on December 1. The tournament will begin on June 14. Here are the teams that have already qualified for the tournament: Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Belgium, France, England, Egypt, Nigeria, Iceland, Japan, Iran, Mexico, Poland, Panama, Uruguay, Serbia, Spain, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Portugal.
Which team was the biggest surprise of the qualifiers? Which teams do you think will impress at the World Cup? Let us know in the comments.