News Matches
World Cup

Why are Italy not at the World Cup 2022 in Qatar?

9:00 AM SGT 12/10/22
Marco Verratti Italy North Macedonia 2022 World Cup play-offs
Why exactly are the reigning European champions not at the World Cup?

So you're usually not that much into football, but you've decided to tune in to the World Cup because ... well ... it's the World Cup!

Yet something feels off.

You've seen Lionel Messi's Argentina on the fixture list. Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal will be in action. Same for Neymar's Brazil and Kylian Mbappe's France. But where's Italy?

Fair question.

Italy are after all the reigning European champions and arguably one of the strongest national teams in the world.

You'd expect them to be at the World Cup!

Except they didn't qualify this time around.

Only 32 teams qualify for the tournament, with the hosts the only team guaranteed of a place. All the others will have to battle it out with their continental rivals for a limited number of places. And this is where things went wrong for Italy.

ALSO READ: World Cup 2022: Haaland, Salah & the megastars who won't be going to Qatar

They were paired with Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania in Group C of the Uefa World Cup qualification, with the winner of the group booking a direct ticket to the finals and the runners-up qualifying for the play-offs.

Now, that seemed like a very doable group for Italy and they made a bright start, winning their opening three games.

Nevertheless, draws versus Bulgaria and Switzerland proved their opponents were by no means walkovers.

In fact, two more draws against Switzerland and Northern Ireland saw them finish second in their group, with Chelsea midfielder Jorginho the villain of the group stages as he missed crucial spot kicks in each of the matches against the Swiss.

Not all was lost just yet, though, as they still have a chance of booking their ticket for Qatar via the playoffs.

Unfortunately, North Macedonia proved to be too strong in what was arguably the biggest shock of the qualification campaign, meaning Italy missed out on a spot at the World Cup for the second time in succession, having previously endured the same fate for the 2018 edition in Russia.