Qualifying for the 2018 World Cup is edging towards a conclusion – and it is becoming increasingly clear which teams are going to make the cut.
While underdogs around the globe, including underdogs Tahiti and Burkina Faso, edge closer to their bow on the world stage, some renowned countries could be about to miss out.
Among them are Chile, Senegal and Wales, all of whom possess some of the game’s biggest names in their squads.
As everyone gets set to return to their clubs, we have looked at the countries which look set to miss out on qualification – and more importantly, the names who could get the summer off as a result.
Star players: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen
The goalless draw against the Republic of Ireland on Friday night appeared to be a big missed opportunity for Wales, who might even miss out on a place in the qualification round.
Chris Coleman’s men already sit four points adrift of the top two after drawing four of their opening five group games.
Defeat to Serbia next time out – where they are without suspended Gareth Bale – could be a damning result.
Star players: Arjen Robben, Gini Wijnaldum, Daley Blind, Wesley Sneijder, Memphis Depay
Netherlands coach Danny Blind was sacked following the humbling 2-0 defeat to Bulgaria this weekend – and the situation could be too bad to recover.
France are already six points ahead of them and Sweden three, currently occupying the qualification round spot in second.
Holland’s only wins have come against Belarus and Luxembourg, the bottom markers of Group A, as they look set to miss out on a second major tournament.
Star player: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Not so much of a surprise but it would indeed be a disappointment not to see a player of Mkhitaryan’s talent not on show at the World Cup.
Armenia have a shot of making the qualification round, but ultimately have to beat the likes of Montenegro, Denmark and Romania above them, which will prove to be a tough ask.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Star players: Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic
Bosnia made their World Cup debut in 2014 but have it all to do if they are to return there in 2018.
Belgium and Greece appear to be the two to beat in Group H of qualifying and securing victory over those two will be the most important factor in deciding Bosnia’s fate.
It will be important not to slip up against Gibraltar, Estonia and Cyprus in their coming games.
Star players: Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Bravo
It’s a tight group, with Chile only actually sitting three points from the top of the South American qualifying table.
But with four teams above them and only four automatic qualifying spots up for grabs, Chile have their work cut out if they want to make the grade.
They have dropped points to three of the four teams above them – Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador – and are still yet to face off against Brazil.
Star players: Christian Pulisic, Tim Howard, Christian Pulisic
Another one where there is time to turn fortunes around, but the United States have already fallen four points off the pace in the North, Central America and Caribbean group.
Mexico lead the way with Costa Rica and Panama hopeful of qualification.
The USA have already lost two of their three group matches – and defeat to Panama next time out could leave them sweating over an automatic top three berth.
Star players: Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, Yacine Brahimi
One of the stories of 2014, but Algeria have it all to do if they want to repeat their heroics in Russia next summer.
Algeria only have one draw from their opening two Group B games, with only the top-placed side making it to the tournament.
Nigeria have two wins from two, meaning Algeria need a massive turnaround if they are to overcome their group’s other challengers in Cameroon and Zambia.
Star players: Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissia Gueye, Chiekhou Kouyate
Senegal only find themselves one point off top spot in their group but Burkina Faso and South Africa are making for tricky opponents in Group D.
Their best hope will be for the Cape Verde Islands to secure a surprise result against the other two to allow Senegal back in – but they really need their big names to step up to the plate if they are to qualify.
Star players: Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Baba Rahman
It was always going to be a tough ask for Ghana to qualify given that they were paired in the same group as Africa Cup of Nations winners Egypt.
But failure to win in their opening two games in the group means that Ghana are already facing an uphill battle with five points to make up on Egypt already.
They even have the tricky task of having to negotiate past Uganda as well.