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ITALY were left shellshocked after failing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
Roberto Mancini’s side were seemingly riding high after beating England to win the Euro 2020 crown at Wembley last summer.
Italy failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in one of the biggest shocks in world footballCredit: EPA
The Italians’ absence from Qatar this winter will go down as one of the biggest surprises in international football history.
But how does it compare to some of the other biggest shocks?
We take a look at seven of the biggest…
ITALY – 2022
JUST last summer, Italy were dancing on the Wembley turf parading the European Championship trophy in front of heartbroken England stars.
Seemingly a team very much on rise after years of poor performances by their standards, the Azzurri were expected to make a deep run in Qatar this winter.
Jorginho missed two penalties during Italy’s crunch qualification group-stage draw with Italy, which saw them need to fight through play-offs.
And incredibly, despite taking 32 shots on goal, Italy LOST through an extra-time screamer from Aleksandar Trajkovski to send North Macedonia to the play-offs final – and Italy home.
GERMANY – 2018
IN 2014, Germany lifted the World Cup for the first time in 24 years after beating Argentina thanks to a Mario Gotze winner in extra time.
Fast forward four years and Joachim Low’s side were sent packing in the group stage of the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Germany lost Mexico in their group-stage opener thanks to a Hirving Lozano winner, before squeezing past Sweden 2-1 to keep their knockout stage hopes alive.
But a 2-0 defeat to South Korea ensured a star-studded squad including Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos were booted out at the first hurdle.
Germany were KO’d in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup just four years after winning itCredit: AFP or licensors
HOLLAND – 2018
NOT quite on par with Germany, but Holland’s demise absolutely shocking.
The Dutch roared to third place at the 2014 World Cup – losing on penalties to Argentina in the semis before thumping Brazil 3-0 to avoid finishing fourth.
But after that, the team went on an horrendous slump – failing to qualify for Euro 2016, finishing fourth in their group, or or the 2018 World Cup after ending up third in their pot.
Holland have since finished second in the 2018-19 Nations League – but only made it as far as the last 16 at Euro 2020 to prove their inconsistent patch is very much alive.
Holland went from third at the 2014 World Cup to missing two straight major tournamentsCredit: Reuters
WALES – 2018
FANS were in dreamland after Wales reached the semi-finals at Euro 2016, even beating giants Belgium 3-1 in the quarters.
Their dream ended with a 2-0 defeat against eventual champions Portugal.
But it turned into a nightmare just months later after failing to make it out of a simple-looking World Cup 2018 qualifying group.
The Welsh were beaten to top spot by Serbia – who qualified automatically – with the Republic of Ireland coming in second.
Wales did qualify for – and reach the last 16 of – Euro 2020, but were thumped 4-0 by Denmark in the first knockout stage.
Gareth Bale is leading the charge for his nation to reach their first World Cup since 1958 after his double saw them beat Austria in the play-offs semi-final.
They’ll play Scotland or Ukraine in the final.
Wales reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 only to miss out on qualification for the 2018 World CupCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
FRANCE – 2002
THE French clinched the 1998 World Cup on home soil with a flourish, thumping Brazil 3-0 in Paris.
But just four years later they were licking their wounds after being sent packing from Japan and South Korea in the group stage.
France lost their opening match 1-0 against surprise package Senegal, before a draw with Uruguay.
Incredibly, the reigning champions lost 2-0 to Denmark to ensure they would not make the knockout stages in 2002 despite boasting Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Zinedine Zidane and Co in their squad.
France went from champions in 1998 to group stage victims just four years laterCredit: EPA
DENMARK – 1994
THE Danes pulled off one of the all-time great upsets by beating Germany to the Euro 1992 crown.
But their star-studded squad including Peter Schmeichel and the Laudrups failed to make it to the 1994 World Cup.
Denmark were beaten to the tournament in the USA by Spain and the Republic of Ireland.
Denmark won Euro 92 but failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the USACredit: EPA
ENGLAND – 1974
AND finally, England…
In 1966, the Three Lions won the World Cup – still their only ever major tournament win.
They only qualified for the 1970 edition thanks to their status as reigning champions and did manage to reach the quarter-finals.
But England failed to make it to the tournament proper in 1974 or 1978 in a shocking decade for the Three Lions.
England won the 1966 World Cup, only to fail to qualify in 1974 and 1978Credit: PA:Press Association