Even before the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and several squads yet to be selected in the remaining playoff rounds, the teams that will qualify for the tournament are already clear. Despite several unexpected good performances, there are also the other surprisingly disappointing teams otherwise with many star players at their hands.
Those are the three greatest underperformers of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers so far.
Chile undoubtedly has been one of the principals of the CONMEBOL region during the last decade. They qualified for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, took the third place in the 2007 U20 World Cup, and won twice at Copa America during 2015 and 2016. Furthermore, they made it to the FIFA Confederations Cup final just a few months ago. That is why their absence in the World Cup is utterly surprising for both professionals and experts.
However, there is no doubt that their destiny should have been brighter. Sadly, numbers are revealing the truth and La Roja failed their final four matches. A 0-3 loss definitely put an end to their chances of getting to the Word Cup for a third consecutive time when even a one-goal loss was enough to send them to the final game against Brazil. The outcome is an alarm that this might be the end of Chile’s most capable generation of talents and that changes are required. This is most obvious when the regularly featured players for the side are considered.
Distinguished players: Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Gary Medel, Claudio Bravo
Even bigger disappointment than Chile was United States in the CONCACAF Final Qualifying round. With a reputation of a combating team in the region the USMNT failed spectacularly and remained fifth in the Hexagonal standings. Even worse, they ended the final game third and couldn’t make it to Russian land when in fact they were the masters of their own fate.
What they needed to do to ensure the third place in the standings was a win over Trinidad & Tobago. Yet they scored 1-2 loss and this in addition to Honduras and Panama victory over Mexico and Costa Rica will guarantee them that they will watch the tournament from home next year. Hopefully, this will finally motivate U.S. to improve their league system and youth selection. Apparently, there are hardly acceptable replacements for top players like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. Time has come when they can’t rely on those veterans and the transformation is much needed now. At stake is their position of a dominant contender in the CONCACAF region.
Distinguished players absent: Christian Pulisic, Clint Dempsey, John Brooks, Michel Bradley
The Netherlands were in a hard situation entering the final match of the UEFA World Cup Qualifiers. With France and Sweden ahead the Dutch needed to hit seven-goal win to find their place as one of the best second-played squads. Even the decisive 2-0 win over their rivals led to no avail. The Netherlands did not succeed to qualify for a second big tournament and in addition lost its chance on the 2016 European Championship.
Similarly to USA, the Netherlands need redesign of their strategy for the future. Notable players like Robben have already declared that they are completely leaving the National Team. Others like Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Preise also irreplaceable through the years will most likely to follow suit. Although the national team is equipped with very talented young players it would be unfair to expect from them the same as from the squad that finished third and fourth in the last two World Cups. The team has to be reinvented and unless they do, they are bound to become an average team in Europe for the foreseeable future.
Distinguished players absent: Arjen Robben, Daley Blind, Memphis Depay, Virgil van Dijk
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Tagged with: Alexis Sanchez • Arjen Robben • Arturo Vidal • Christian Pulisic • Claudio Bravo • Clint Dempsey • Daley Blind • Gary Medel • John Brooks • Memphis Depay • Michel Bradley • Virgil van Dijk