Top 5 European stars who risk missing out on the World Cup 2022

Italy qualifying for the World Cup 2022 could mean Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Robert Lewandowski won’t play in Qatar.

With the Azzurri registered to take part in the play-offs in March, the Italian stars are part of the list of players who risk not taking part in the World Cup next year.

Road to Qatar 2022: All you need to know about the play-offs

Europe has 13 places in the World Cup next year, but three of the nations that qualify arrive through the play-offs next year.

Erlin Braut Haaland (Norway)

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland is on everyone’s lips across Europe after his numbers with the Bundesliga side, both in the Champions League and domestic competitions. The Norwegian has scored nine goals in six Bundesliga years and will not be able to contribute for the national team in the crucial qualifying match against Holland tonight, due to a flexor problem in his hip.

Robert Lewandowski (Poland)

Ballon d’Or candidate Robert Lewandowski risks losing out on a place at Qatar next year, only two years after having conquered European football with Bayern Munich.

The Poland international has bagged eight goals in the four Champions League games so far this term, plus 13 in 11 Bundesliga games. Lewandowski has scored 72 goals in 127 caps with the national team, who are preparing for the play-off draw on November 26.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Portugal and Italy had a similar destiny, losing an automatic place at Qatar 2022 in the final round of fixtures, as Serbia stunned the Selecao. One of the most coveted players in the history of football risks losing out on what could be his last chance to win a World Cup. Ronaldo, who joined Manchester United over the summer, turns 37 in February, and even if nobody expects him to retire anytime soon, he would be 41 by the time another chance comes around.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)

Another veteran who could have one last chance to play at the World Cup would be Milan striker Ibrahimovic, who has helped the Rossoneri return to the top of Italian football. The 40-year-old arrived in January 2020 and has been a protagonist for Stefano Pioli, who has guided the Diavolo back to the Champions League and currently sit joint top with Napoli in Serie A. Zlatan came out of international retirement to take part in the World Cup Qualifiers, missing EURO 2020 due to injury, but would be eager to help his nation in Qatar.

Gareth Bale (Wales)

Real Madrid star Gareth Bale has been the leader of a Wales side who have gone from being a minnow to become one of the expected participants at the Finals every two years. The Welsh side have qualified for the play-offs, but are not seeded for the competition and will therefore have a disadvantage going into the semi-finals of the competition.