XtraTime Web Desk: The FIFA World Cup in Russia will no doubt be an extremely exciting affair for the football lovers across the globe. But the event would certainly miss some of the biggest football playing nations in the World Cup history. Here goes the top four nations whom Russia will miss the most.
The last time Italy missed a World Cup before this was in 1958. The Azzurri first missed out on automatic qualification after finishing second in UEFA’s Group G behind Spain. A failure to defeat Spain in both their group fixtures as well as a shock draw to Macedonia at home saw them eventually finish five points behind La Furia Roja. They did make it to the playoffs as one of the best eight group runners-up but lost 1-0 over two legs to Sweden, thus bringing the curtains down on what was an inconsistent qualifying campaign. The 0-3 loss in Madrid brought out the inadequacies of coach Gian Piero Ventura and his stubborn adherence to his old-school tactical creed didn’t help.
Chile’s best World Cup show was when they hosted it in 1962 where they finished third. However, they remained inconsistent after that.The last two editions, in 2010 and 2014, saw them make it to the Round of 16, which was a marked improvement. In the qualifiers, they were on course needing 4 points from their last 4 games. They lost all 4 matches with Alexis Sanchez having a below-par run.
Cameroon’s World Cup journey did not begin until 1982, but the five-time Africa Cup of Nations winners have been a semi-regular fixture of the tournament since then. Their most successful appearance came in 1990 when they made it to the last eight before losing to England — a tournament that also saw Roger Milla win the bronze boot at 38. Cameroon, crowned African champions as recently as 2017, could only muster a third-place finish in their group in the final stage of the qualifiers. Only the winner of each group is guaranteed a spot in the World Cup. Cameroon finished third, six points behind group winners Nigeria.
Netherlands have never won a World Cup despite making the final thrice. But it is testament to the kind of captivating football they played in the 1970s and 80s that they were always considered a European powerhouse. The Oranje, who made the 2010 World Cup final and finished third in 2014, could not even make it to the playoffs from UEFA’s Group A, finishing third behind Sweden. Twin losses to eventual grouptoppers France, a 0-2 shock loss to Bulgaria in Sofia and a draw against Sweden saw the Dutch fail to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2002.