World Cup Betting Favorite & Reigning European Champion Italy Fails to Qualify for Qatar
Alberto Pizzoli/Getty. Pictured: Marco Verrati reacts as Italy is knocked out of the World Cup by North Macedonia.
Italy was the seventh-best favorite to win the World Cup and was reigning European champions. Yet, it won’t qualify for the World Cup — again.
Despite winning Europe’s vaunted international tournament last summer against England, the Italians have now failed to qualify for its second consecutive World Cup.
Italy had been +1400, seventh-best favorites to win the most prestigious international tournament outright, trailing just France, Brazil, Germany, England, Spain and Belgium in their odds to do so.
Italy fell to North Macedonia on Thursday, a team that was somewhere around +1100 to win this game in regulation. Italy languished the entire match before giving up a stoppage time goal on home soil.
The Italians were -675 favorites to win this game.
Action Network soccer analyst BJ Cunningham had Italy ranked No. 6 in his latest world power rankings, which was released early Thursday. North Macedonia currently sits at No. 55 in the rankings.
Now, Portugal has an opportunity to coast into its sixth World Cup in a row.
Had Italy won, a powerhouse matchup between the reigning European champions and the 2016 Euro winners would have decided a spot in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which kicks off in November.
Portugal will play North Macedonia on Tuesday, March 29 for one of the last spots in that tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo — in pursuit of perhaps his last appearance in an international tournament — will have a chance to redeem himself amidst a prolonged goal scoring drought. Ronaldo has never missed a World Cup or Euros throughout his lengthy international career.
North Macedonia has never made it to the World Cup, but it does have some curious upsets in recent years. North Macedonia took down Germany almost a year ago this month under similar circumstances. Germany gave up a last-minute goal after pressing forward heavily down the stretch.