As the qualification groups for the 2018 World Cup begin to take shape, we take a look at some of the big sides who could very well miss out on a place in Russia next summer.
A World Cup without Lionel Messi is fast becoming a genuine possibility. Jorge Sampaoli’s side are currently fifth in qualifying after a dismal 1-1 draw with Venezuela on Tuesday night.
The top four automatically qualify while fifth takes a play-off meeting.
With Chile languishing below them in contention still, the 2014 finalists face an uphill battle for automatic qualification needing victories over Peru and Ecuador while hoping other results go their way as well.
A shock defeat to Bolivia has left the Chilean’s hopes in tatters. They lie sixth in the South American group and will need victories over Ecuador and Brazil while hoping others slip up along the way.
Given that they are back-to-back continental champions, their absence would come as a real surprise to most. One of Messi or Alexis Sanchez will probably not be in Russia.
Dutch football has gone into somewhat of a regression since Louis van Gaal left the national team to join Manchester United.
Failure to qualify for Euro2016 could very well be followed by failure in this qualification campaign as the Netherlands will need to beat Belarus and then defeat Sweden while hopefully eclipsing their goal difference for a play-off spot.
Three points and six goals behind the Swedes, we probably won’t be seeing the orange strip at next summer’s World Cup.
Republic of Ireland
Martin O’Neill’s men gathered just a single point from their meetings with Georgia and Serbia – handing the initiative to Wales to secure the runners-up spot.
The Boys in Green will have to beat Moldova and the Welsh to have any hopes of qualification and, on recent form, doubts are fast circulating over their ability to do so.
It’s looking alarmingly likely that we will have to wait another while for our next World Cup.
A late goal against Honduras last night ultimately kept the Americans hopes of qualifying alive. They currently sit in the play-off position and face games against Panama and Trinidad and Tobago to secure automatic qualification.
While these might sound like easy fixtures, the US have dropped points in six of their qualifiers so far so they still face a tough test to make it an eighth World Cup appearance in a row.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena