WORLD CUP 2022
Why Italy won't be at Qatar 2022 - how many World Cups have they missed?
Italy will be one of the big absentees at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The ‘Azzurra’ entered the playoffs after finishing second in their qualifying group.
Italy won't be travelling to the Persian Gulf in November. The defending European champions were left without a ticket to the World Cup in Qatar in a repeat of the drama they suffered trying to qualify for the 2018 finals in Russia. For the first time in history, Italy will have missed two consecutive World Cup finals. Roberto Mancini's team were sensationally knocked out by North Macedonia at the play-off stage but in a way, the damage had already been done in the earlier rounds.
Italy ended as runners-up their their qualifying group, finishing just two points behind Switzerland. Had things worled out a little differently, they might have avoided going to the play-offs. After getting off to a winning start, Italy went on to draw four of their 10 qualifying matches - being held by Bulgaria, Northern Ireland and twice by the Swiss. Taking four points from a possible 12 was the reason why they ended second in Group C - despite not losing a single match. Italy remain in sixth-place in the FIFA world Men's ranking and are the only team out of the top 10 seeds who wont be going to Qatar.
For Mancini's men it was a return of nightmares of previous years. All of the euphoria from winning Euro 2022 evaporated in just 92 minutes in their play-off semi-final against North Macedonia. Trajkovski became a national hero for North Macedonia, rifling in their decisive goal and dealing Italy a killer blow. That sent them through to the play-off final which they lost to Portugal.
How many World Cups have Italy missed?
It won't be the first time that Italy have not made it to the World Cup finals. The Italian national team have missed three previous editions and the Qatar 2022 tournament will be the fourth time they have been asbsent. In the last edition, in Russia 2018, they failed to qualify after being eliminated by Sweden in the second round play-offs - in doing so, they became the first former world champion to fail to qualify for the finals in history.
Italy have taken part in the World Cup finals on 18 occasions, only two nations have appeared more - Germany (20) and Brazil (22). Curiously, Italy have won the tournament as many times as Germany have - four, just behind the record holders Brazil, who have lifted the trophy five times.
Italy were not at the first edition of the World Cup in Uruguay in 1930 because they declined an invitation to take part. They hosted the second edition of the finals in 1934, were crowned champions on home soil and successfully defended the trophy four years layer in France. However, they missed out on a place at Sweden 1958 after ending second in their group to Northern Ireland.