England booked an automatic place at next summer’s World Cup in Brazil with a 2-0 win over Poland on Tuesday night, with the winners of the nine European qualification groups determined.
Some teams, like Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and Germany had already won their groups before the last fixture, and Russia, Bosnia and Spain will now also be on their way to South America next summer.
However, not every good team gets to qualify for the World Cup – there have been some memorable world cup qualifying failures in the past. It’s going to be the same for the 2014 edition with one of Sweden and Portugal due to miss out, but even then we’ve already seen some major upsets. Who are this qualifying round’s major failures? Let’s find out.
Roy Hodgson’s men were keen to avoid the stress and pressure of the play-offs, which will now determine Europe’s final four competitors in the tournament. The eight best runners-up from the groups will face the lottery of the winner-takes-all match-ups, with the draw to be made on October 21.
The eight teams that will enter the play-off round are Croatia, Portugal, Greece, Sweden, France, Ukraine, Romania and Iceland. Four of these sides will be eliminated and there is certainly room for big-name countries to become failures here.
The likes of Portugal and France stand out from the crowd, as these European powerhouses are usually present at the biggest tournaments and even some people’s choices for potential winners. These perennial challengers will need to bypass 180 minutes of nerve-wracking action if they are to take their place in Brazil.
Some established sides did not even make the play-offs, and must be deemed as having a failed qualifying campaign. Denmark were the unlucky runner-up to miss out on a place in the play-offs, with only 16 points from their ten games.
Of other sides that did not make it through to the play-offs, the likes of Czech Republic, Serbia, Turkey and Norway stand out. The Czechs have witnessed their national side go downhill of late, while the Serbs missed out despite a talented squad. Turkey and Norway also have a bright history of attending major tournaments, but will have to watch on next summer.
Of the home nations, it must be said that all disappointed and that their campaigns were failures. Republic of Ireland had a tricky group, but four wins from ten games was simply not good enough for the Emerald Isle. Northern Ireland did worse, winning only one of their ten qualifying fixtures to end up second-bottom of their pool.
Scotland and Wales were drawn together in Group A, and ended up fourth and fifth respectively, both winning three games. Gordon Strachan helped the Scots to finish well with a win over Croatia, while Wales drew with Belgium. Both will have to improve if they are to make it to Euro 2016.