25 Stars In Serious Danger Of Missing The World Cup

If World Cup qualifying ended today, these 25 global superstars would be in serious trouble.

With only a handful of matches remaining in World Cup qualifying, it’s become clear which nations are in serious danger of missing out on Russia next summer. While all will become clear in October, here are 25 global superstars who, if World Cup qualifying ended today, would either fail to appear at the tournament or would need to navigate a playoff to qualify. 

25 Stars In Serious Danger Of Missing The World Cup

1
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

@CatalanEdition | Twitter

Status: With two matches remaining, Argentina are holding on to fifth place in the CONMEBOL table. Finishing there would see La Albiceleste qualify for a two-legged playoff with New Zealand for the chance to go to Russia. Argentina host Peru and then travel to Ecuador knowing that they might still yet secure automatic promotion, but any slip-up could see them dumped from the World Cup entirely with Chile, Paraguay and Ecuador making up the chasing pack.

Qualifying Probability: High

2
Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez

@ArsenalFC_MP | Twitter

Status: Chile sit in sixth in the CONMEBOL table, a finish that would see them eliminated from the World Cup finals. It’s been a disastrous campaign for the back-to-back Copa America champions, and they’ll need to overcome Ecuador at home and travel to Brazil for their final two qualifiers.

However, La Roja can take solace from the fact that this generation is seemingly destined to ruin everything for Messi and Argentina, an event that could yet play out.

Qualifying Probability: Low 

3
Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)
Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia

@UtdWays | Twitter

Status: Ecuador are just barely holding on near the bottom of the CONMEBOL table — four points separate them from Argentina in fifth. However, with remaining matches against the fifth-place side and sixth-place Chile, two victories in October could be enough to pull off a miraculous recovery. Just don’t bet on it.

Qualifying Probability: Very Low

4
Christian Pulisic (USA)
Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic

@GISSoccerShow | Twitter

Status: The United States sits fourth in the Hex, a finish that would see them play either Syria or Australia in a two-legged playoff for Russia. However, with a home match against Panama and a trip to Trinidad and Tobago to wrap up their campaign, the U.S. could still secure automatic qualification with two wins.

On the other hand, this team has shown that that’s a massive ask. They could still slip-up and get bounced entirely by finishing behind Honduras and dropping to fifth, although that’s unthinkable. 

Qualifying Probability: High

5
Emil Forsberg (Sweden)
Emil Forsberg

Emil Forsberg

@MrRossonero | Twitter

Status: Sweden trail France by a point in Group A, and they’ll be resigned to finishing second and qualifying via the playoff. However, they’ve still got to defeat Luxembourg on Oct. 7 before an all-important clash against the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

The Swedes currently have a three-point lead over Holland and a vastly superior goal difference. 

Qualifying Probability: Medium

6
Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben

@Bayern_mania | Twitter

Status: The Netherlands must defeat Belarus soundly away and then defeat Sweden in Amsterdam if they’re to have any hope of finishing second and qualifying via the playoff. While it’s still possible, this Dutch side is nowhere near the teams of 2010 and 2014

Qualifying Probability: Low

7
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

@DeadlytrioBBC | Twitter

Status: Portugal have assured themselves of a place in the playoff, but they currently trail Switzerland at the top of Group B by three points. If they want to secure automatic qualification they’ll need to defeat Andorra on Oct. 7 before a showdown with the Swiss in Lisbon on Oct. 10.  

Qualifying Probability: High

8
Gareth Bale (Wales)
Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale

@WhoScored | Twitter

Status: Wales have drawn five of their eight qualifiers, but they’ve still managed to crawl above Ireland into second place in Group D. Serbia have all but secured the top spot and automatic qualification, leaving the Welsh and Irish to battle for qualification via the playoff. 

The two nations will meet on Oct. 9 in Cardiff in a winner takes all matchup. However, neither Ireland nor Wales will be heavy favorites against potential playoff opponents likes Portugal, Italy and Slovakia. 

Qualifying Probability: Medium

9
David Alaba (Austria)
David Alaba

David Alaba

@SuedkurveTO | Twitter

Status: Austria can no longer directly qualify and second place is out of their control. They’ll need to defeat Serbia and Moldova in their final two matches and hope that other results go their way.

Qualifying Probability: Very Low

10
Stevan Jovetic (Montenegro)
Stevan Jovetic

Stevan Jovetic

@sjovetic | Twitter

Status: Montenegro are currently second in Group E, but their remaining matches are at home against Denmark, the nation in third, and away to Poland, the nation in first. Montenegro control their own destiny, but they’ll have to well and truly earn their place.

Qualifying Probability: Medium

11
Christian Eriksen (Denmark)
Christian Eriksen

Christian Eriksen

@_SW2_ | Twitter

Status: Denmark currently sit behind Montenegro by virtue of their head-to-head match last October, when Montenegro won 1-0 in Copenhagen. Denmark must now return the favor in Podgorica if they’re to make the playoff.

Qualifying Probability: Low

12
Marek Hamsik (Slovakia)
Marek Hamsik

Marek Hamsik

@Squawka | Twitter

Status: England have all but secured automatic qualification in Group F, leaving Slovakia, Slovenia and Scotland to battle for second. Slovakia must travel to Glasgow to play Scotland on October 5 before hosting Malta on October 8. The match against Scotland is going to be beyond lit.

Qualifying Probability: Medium

13
Jan Oblak (Slovenia)
Jan Oblak

Jan Oblak

@EuroQualifiers | Twitter

Status: Slovenia trail Slovakia by one point in the hunt for second place in Group F. With matches away to England and at home to Scotland, Slovenia has an extremely difficult path to overtaking them. 

Qualifying Probability: Low

14
Marco Verratti (Italy)
Marco Verratti

Marco Verratti

@PatPSGdepuis82 | Twitter

Status: Barring a horrible slip-up, Spain have secured automatic qualification from Group G, leaving Italy to navigate the playoff to reach Russia. The good news for Italy is that they’re the nation every other group runner-up will be hoping to avoid.

Qualifying Probability: High

15
Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Miralem Pjanic

Miralem Pjanic

@UEFAcom_es | Twitter

Status: Belgium have secured top spot in Group H, leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece and Cyprus to battle for second. The Dragons host Belgium on Oct. 7 before finishing away to Estonia.

Qualifying Probability: Medium

16
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Iceland)
Gylfi Sigurdsson

Gylfi Sigurdsson

@evertonfcforum | Twitter

Status: Iceland, the darlings of Euro 2016, are currently in second in Group I, trailing Croatia on goal difference. However, both Turkey and Ukraine sit only two points back. It’s going down to the wire, and Iceland finish play with a daunting trip to Turkey before finishing against Kosovo. 

Qualifying Probability: Low

17
Arda Turan (Turkey)
Arda Turan

Arda Turan

@turkishamernews | Twitter

Status: Turkey are third in Group I, two points behind Iceland in second. However, Turkey welcomes Iceland to Eskisehir Stadium on Oct. 6 knowing that victory changes that. They’ll then finish their campaign with a trip to Finland.

Qualifying Probability: Medium

18
Andriy Yarmolenko (Ukraine)
Andriy Yarmolenko

Andriy Yarmolenko

@DonetskWay2012 | Twitter

Status: In third in Group I, Ukraine will need to take care of business against Kosovo before hosting Croatia in Kiev on October 9. They’ll need to finish qualifying on a high and then hope other results go their way to get in.

Qualifying Probability: Low

19
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenia)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

@UtdWays | Twitter

Status: Armenia are in fifth in Group E and eliminated from World Cup contention.

Qualifying Probability: Eliminated

20
Naby Keita (Guinea)
Naby Keita

Naby Keita

@ffsNaby | Twitter

Status: Guinea are in third in Group A and eliminated from World Cup contention.

Qualifying Probability: Eliminated

21
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez

@ThePredictorNG | Twitter

Status: Algeria are in fourth in Group B and eliminated from World Cup contention.

Qualifying Probability: Eliminated 

22
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

@tarsports | Twitter

Status: Gabon are in third in Group C, trailing the Ivory Coast by two points at the top of the table. Gabon will travel to Morocco and then host Mali needing a slip-up from the Elephants in order to qualify.

Qualifying Probaility: Low

23
Sadio Mane (Senegal)
Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane

@ffshope | Twitter

Status: Senegal are third in Group D, one point behind both Burkina Faso and Cape Verde. They’ll travel to Cape Verde before hosting South Africa to finish qualifying.

Qualifying Probability: Medium

24
Andre Ayew (Ghana)
Andre Ayew

Andre Ayew

@Hammers_Update | Twitter

Status: Ghana are third in Group E, four points behind Egypt at the top of the table. They’ll travel to Uganda before hosting Egypt, knowing that a victory still might not be enough.

Qualifying Probability: Low

25
Aaron Mooy (Australia)
Aaron Mooy

Aaron Mooy

@PledgeSports | Twitter

Status: Australia finished a disappointing third in Group B of AFC Third Round qualifying. They’ll now have to navigate a two-legged playoff against Syria to advance to a playoff against CONCACAF’s fourth place team. Although they’ll be heavy favorites against Syria, they’ll have their work cut out for them against either Panama, the United States or Honduras.

Qualifying Probability: Medium

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