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12 Dec 2017 4:24
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Soccer

    World Cup: Which teams have made it and which teams have missed out on next year's finals?

    After 18 months of qualifiers in every corner of the globe, the list of teams is complete for next year's World Cup finals in Russia. Check who's in and who's out.

    Then there were 32 — after 18 months of qualifiers in every corner of the globe, the list of teams is complete for next year's World Cup finals in Russia.

    Everyone's path was different — some qualified directly, others had to go through the dreaded play-offs.

    There will be representatives from Europe, Central and South America, Africa and Asia, with the Socceroos to make their fourth straight appearance.

    It's now the perfect time to check out the 32 sides who have made the grade for next year's tournament.

    The hosts

    Russia qualify automatically as hosts. Coach Stanislav Merchesov and his men will no doubt benefit from some serious home support, but the Russians are ranked only 65 in the world, and things could get ugly if they fail to reach the knockout stages.

    The giants

    Who's in:

    There will be plenty of star power at World Cup 2018, led by defending champions Germany, Lionel Messi's Argentina, Neymar's Brazil and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal side.

    Taking out European champions Portugal, who has never won the Cup, there are 11 titles between the other three (if you include West Germany in 1954, 1974, and 1990 as well as Germany in 2014).

    We nearly had a World Cup without the Albiceleste, with Argentina down against Ecuador in a final qualifier before Messi dragged his team over the line with a hat-trick.

    It does show, however, that not much is guaranteed anymore at World Cup level, particularly if you look below at who has missed out from Europe.

    Most of the old names are back, however, with European powers like France, Spain and England, South America's Uruguay and Colombia and Asia's Japan and South Korea all making it to Russia without the need for play-offs.

    Barring injury, the big teams should feature some of the best strikers in the world — with England's Harry Kane, Uruguay's Luis Suarez, France's Antoine Griezmann and Spain's Alvaro Morata all set to deliver on the world stage.

    Who's out:

    By far and away the biggest side to miss out on a ticket to Russia is Italy, who couldn't score in 180 minutes of football against Sweden in their play-off, failing to qualify for the first time since Pele was in his pomp for Brazil back in 1958.

    It could well mark the end of an era, with a generation of players like the great Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon set to bow out from international football.

    Another big name to miss out from Europe is the Netherlands — World Cup finalists in 1974, 1978 and 2010 without winning the trophy — who went out backwards to finish third in their group and miss out on Russia.

    The regulars

    Who's in:

    The European contingent has regulars such as Belgium, who are perennially named as "dark horses" for every major tournament, but despite having world class players like midfielders Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, striker Romelu Lukaku and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, the Red Devils are yet to make a real impact on a World Cup.

    Croatia had to go through the qualifiers against Greece, but Real Madrid star Luka Modric gives them a chance to beat anyone on their day.

    Then there are Poland,Serbia — who lost to Australia the last time they qualified in 2010 — and Switzerland.

    Mexico has made the round of 16 at every World Cup since 1994, and Costa Rica, otherwise known as Los Ticos, has now qualified for a fifth time.

    Saudi Arabia and Iran — who are both well known to Australian football fans — made it out of Asian qualification.

    From Africa, traditionally strong nations like Nigeria, Morocco and Senegal — whose World Cup highlight was beating defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals in 2002 — will be lining up in Russia.

    Tunisia had not made it since 1998, but they are back for a fifth finals, while Egypt, who became the first African nation to play in the finals back in 1934, scored an injury-time winner against Congo to make it for the first time since 1990.

    Who's out:

    The United States have been a part of the furniture at World Cup finals since 1990. But an embarrassing loss to Trinidad and Tobago means the US will be left watching on TV next year.

    Also out are Chile, who made the finals in 1998, 2010 and 2014 — meaning Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez will have some downtime after the Premier League season ends.

    Two regular qualifiers from Africa have missed out, with Ivory Coast and Ghana failing to get past Morocco and Egypt respectively.

    The fairytales

    Who's in:

    The clear leader is the men from Iceland who provided some of the most vivid memories from the European Championship finals in 2016.

    The Icelanders stunned the world when they beat England 2-1 in the round of 16, before bowing out to France in the quarter-finals. Their fans made the Viking clap famous, and regardless of whether the team can repeat their heroics in Russia, expect to see a lot more of this.

    The other surprise story of the World Cup will be Panama, a central American nation of just 4 million people, who created history by grabbing the last automatic spot from CONCACAF ahead of the United States.

    The latecomers

    The three remaining spots available for the World Cup have been snapped up following the latest series of play-offs.

    Australia 3-1 Honduras (3-1 on aggregate)

    The Socceroos became the penultimate team to reach the showpiece event in Russia, overcoming the nerves following a 0-0 first-leg draw to thump Honduras 3-1 in Sydney to qualify.

    Denmark 5-1 Republic of Ireland (5-1 on aggregate)

    Denmark has made it to its fifth World Cup, thrashing Ireland 5-1 in Dublin to reach their fifth World Cup tournament.

    Playmaker Christian Eriksen scored a hat-trick, sending a warning signal to anyone drawn to play the Danes in Russia that they will need to shut him down, or pay the price.

    The Irish missed out on qualifying — they have not appeared in the finals since 2002.

    Peru 2-0 New Zealand (2-0 on aggregate)

    Peru has ended the World Cup dreams of New Zealand, claiming the final berth for Russia next year with a 2-0 victory in Lima.

    The 10th-ranked Peru qualified for its first finals since 1982, courtesy of goals to Jefferson Farfan and Christian Ramos

    KEY: AFC - Asia; CAF - Africa; CONCACAF - North and Central America; CONMEBOL - South America; UEFA - Europe

    © 2017 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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