The 2022 World Cup will have some big names missing out
Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup is almost complete as we now know 27 of the 32 teams heading to Qatar. However, since only 32 nations will be competing some of soccer’s biggest names will not be making the trip to the Middle East’s first World Cup. The 2022 World Cup could be the last time we see so many big-time players not partaking as the 2026 World Cup is set to expand from 32 to 48 teams.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Gabon
Barcelona’s savior is still waiting to make his debut on the world’s biggest stage. Aubameyang is the captain of the Gabon National Team which has never qualified for the World Cup since becoming independent from France in 1960. This season had been up and down for the African star who moved from Arsenal to Barcelona in January, but since he made the move he has gone back to the level of play he had been at prior to his downtime at Arsenal. In 11 matches for the Spanish giant, Aubameyang has scored nine times including twice in the El Clásico win over rival Real Madrid.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Sweden
The wait for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to return to the World Cup continues after Sweden was eliminated from qualification in the UEFA Path B playoff final by Poland. The last time Ibrahimovic played in a World Cup was in 2006 when Sweden was knocked out by the hosts Germany in the Round of 16. After missing out in 2010 and 2014 the Swedish legend retired from the national team that qualified in 2018. Upon returning it looked like Ibrahimovic would help lead his country to Qatar. At 40 years old this could very well be the last World Cup that Ibrahimovic could have played in. Despite his age, it has been a strong season in 2021-22 for the Swede at AC Milan. He is the third leading goalscorer across all competitions with eight for the Serie A leading side.
Alexis Sánchez – Chile
The San Siro Stadium in Milan is home to another star player that will not be traveling with his country to Qatar. Inter Milan’s third-leading scorer this season is Chilean star, Alexis Sanchez. Sánchez is Chile’s all-time leading goal scorer with 48 and cap getter with 148 appearances for the South American team. For the second straight time, Chile will not be going to the World Cup after they finished seventh place in CONMEBOL qualifying. Arguably Chile’s greatest ever player and was a key part in them winning back-to-back Copa America titles in 2015 and 2016.
Mohamed Salah – Egypt
The closest of all the players on this list to qualifying for the World Cup was Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian captain led his team to a penalty kick shootout with Senegal that went the way of the West African side. It was the second time in 2022 that Egypt has lost to Senegal in penalties along with the 2021 African Cup of Nations Final. This time Salah took the first penalty and blazed it over the bar after being covered in laser pointers being flashed by the Senegal fans. Salah has been one of the best players in the world over the last few seasons and has helped Liverpool win the English Premier League and UEFA Champions League. Egypt and Salah would have made their second straight World Cup which would be a first for Egypt but missed out in penalties.
Jorginho – Italy
The biggest shock of the 2022 World Cup Qualifying is that the reigning European Champions, Italy, will not be going to Qatar. The Italians were knocked out by a 90’+2’ goal against North Macedonia after blowing a chance to automatically qualify in group play. One of the key players in the Italian team is Chelsea midfielder Jorginho. Jorginho was a hero for Italy in the Euros and for Chelsea in the Champions League. He was rewarded for his great season by being named the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year and finished third in voting for the Ballon d’Or behind Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski. It is mind-boggling that Italy will be watching the World Cup from the couch for a second straight time, as they had missed only two World Cups in the previous 20.
James Rodriguez – Colombia
James Rodriguez made a name for himself at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in which he scored a remarkable goal against Uruguay that won Goal of the Tournament and the FIFA Puskás Award. In that tournament, Rodriguez also won the Golden Boot finishing with six goals, and was named to the team of the tournament. Colombia almost qualified for Qatar but found themself just one point behind Peru for 5th place and a spot in the inter-confederation playoff. The 2022 World Cup will be the first without Rodriguez and Colombia since 2010.
Riyad Mahrez – Algeria
Entering 2022 Algeria was the hottest team in the world having gone 35 matches unbeaten before struggling in the 2021 AFCON. The best player on Algeria has been their captain and Manchester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez. Mahrez has been an important part of Man City since moving from Leicester in 2018 and helped them win everything there is to win domestically in England. The way that Mahrez and Algeria were eliminated from qualifying was ridiculous as they scored a goal in the 118th minute to lead on aggregate before conceding to Cameroon in the 120’+4’ minute and being sent home in shock.
Erling Haaland – Norway
One of the best young players in the world is 21-year-old Erling Haaland. The Borussia Dortmund star is a goal-scoring machine but could not get Norway back to the World Cup for the first time since 1998. The 2020-21 Bundesliga Player of the Season has scored 23 goals in 23 matches for Dortmund so far in the 2021-22 season and has eight goals for Norway since the start of September. This was the first World Cup Qualifying that Haaland has been a part of and he helped Norway finish three points from advancing to the UEFA playoffs. It should be only a matter of time until Haaland makes his World Cup debut, but we will have to wait another four years to see him try again.
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