The 9 teams that have reached every World Cup in the last 20 years or more

Italy failed to reach the tournament for the first time since 1958 after their loss to Sweden last night.

1. Argentina

Soccer 2017 - Argentina def Brazil 1-0 Source: Sydney Low

For a long time, it was looking doubtful as to whether Argentina would be competing at the 2018 World Cup, before some customary Lionel Messi magic got them out of jail. From 1974 onwards, the Argentines have qualified for every World Cup, winning the competition in 1978 and 1986. Since then, they have twice been beaten in the finals by West Germany/Germany (1990 and 2014), in addition to making three quarter-finals appearances (1998, 2006 and 2010).

2. Brazil

Soccer 2017 - Argentina def Brazil 1-0 Source: Sydney Low

Brazil appear to have recovered relatively well in the four years since their humiliating 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat by Germany on home soil. Ahead of Russia 2018, they topped their CONMEBOL group comfortably, winning 12 and losing just one of their 18 matches. They have qualified for every World Cup since the tournament’s inception, winning the trophy five times (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002). They have had a disappointing time by their high standards since the 2002 success, reaching the quarter-finals in 2006 and 2010. They may have gone one better last time out, but that achievement was totally overshadowed by the embarrassing manner of their exit.

3. England

United Kingdom: England v Germany - International Friendly Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

England have been at every World Cup since failing to get to the 1994 competition under the late Graham Taylor. However, the Three Lions have consistently struggled to cope with the burden of expectation since their sole triumph in 1966. The highlight since remains the 1990 World Cup, when they were only beaten by West Germany on penalties. They have suffered four quarter-finals losses since their moment of glory. Ahead of Russia 2018, they rarely looked in trouble during the qualification stages, winning eight of their 10 matches and drawing the other two.

4. France

France v Wales - International Friendly - Stade de France Source: Steven Paston

The French side have qualified for every World Cup since 1994, when then-manager Gerard Houllier infamously blamed David Ginola for his country’s exit. They won the tournament on home soil four years later, but have failed to emulate that feat since, coming closest in 2006, when they lost out in the final to Italy on penalty kicks. They also suffered two group stages exits and one quarter-finals loss since 1998. Despite a few hairy moments, including a 0-0 draw at home to Luxembourg, they managed to top a tricky group that also included Sweden, Netherlands and Bulgaria.

5. Germany

Fussball Laenderspiel/ Freundschaftsspiel/ England - Germany Source: Anke Waelischmiller/SVEN SIMON

Aside from Brazil, no country has a better record at reaching World Cups than Germany. There are only two competitions they have not been part of — 1930 and 1950 (if you take into account their achievements as West Germany). They have a pretty excellent record in the competition recently, winning the competition for the fourth time in 2014, while 1998 was the last time they failed to progress to the semi-finals at least. And they never looked in trouble this time out, as the Germans were the only country to progress from the Uefa group stages with a 100% record.

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6. Japan

2006 FIFA World Cup: Japan - Brazil Source: Pressefoto ULMER/Andreas Schaad

Somewhat remarkably, Japan had never qualified for a World Cup before their first finals in 1998, but have been at every tournament since. They have twice got as far as the round of 16, in 2010 and 2002, when they hosted the tournament alongside South Korea. Qualification was far from straightforward this time out though, as they topped their group on 20 points, one point ahead of both Saudi Arabia and Australia, who had to settle for a play-off against Honduras (the outcome of which is still to be determined).

7. Mexico

Poland: Poland v Mexico - International Friendly Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Mexico have reached the World Cup 15 times in total. Of the teams who have reached Russia, only Germany, Brazil and Argentina have got to more World Cups. The last time they did not participate in the finals was 1990, when they were banned for using overage players in an underage tournament. Despite their prolific appearance rate, they have only twice got as far as the quarter-finals, in 1970 and 1986. Rather remarkably, they have exited the World Cup in the round of 16 for the past six successive tournaments. Their road to Russia was fairly comfortable, topping their group five points ahead of second-place Costa Rica.

8. South Korea

South Korea - Iran 2018 Russia World Cup Asia Qualifier Match Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Defeats to Qatar, China and Iran put South Korea’s 2018 World Cup participation in doubt. However, they managed to scrape through the AFC Third Round to secure their spot in Russia. For a country not renowned as a footballing powerhouse, they have impressively managed to qualify for every World Cup since reaching the tournament for the second time in 1986 (their only previous appearance had been in 1954). However, they have only got past the World Cup group stages twice, memorably finishing fourth in 2002 World Cup and getting as far as the Round of 16 in 2010.

9. Spain

Football - Europe: World Cup - Qualification - Spain vs Albania Source: Bevilacqua Giuliano/ABACA

1974 was the last time Spain didn’t qualify for the World Cup. They have reached every tournament since then, but for a long time, had a reputation for failing to live up to high expectations. Until their great side triumphed in 2010, they never got further than the quarter-finals despite boasting numerous world-class talents over the years. Yet they disappointed last time out, failing to progress past the group stages in Brazil. They managed to qualify relatively easily this time out, taking 28 points from a possible 30 in a group that also featured Italy.

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