Best XI That's Not Going To The World Cup

With the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia just around the corner, all eyes will be on teams like Germany, Brazil, France and even England to pick up the coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy in Moscow on June 15th. But whilst it’s easy to think about the players lucky enough to take part in this sporting extravaganza, spare a thought for those incredible stars who missed out on the 2018 World Cup. Whether it’s poor teamwork or even just bad luck, here are some of the world’s best football players who will be sadly absent from the beautiful game in Russia this summer.

GIANLUIGI BUFFON (ITALY)
Mg Torino 22 08 2018 campionato di calcio serie A Juventus Napoli foto Matteo Gribaudi Image n

There’s something not right about having a World Cup without Italy, and the Italian goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, will be feeling it most. The 40-year old star will have to wave goodbye to his chances of further international glory, and it marks a sad end to the career of the most capped player in Italian football.

The team’s World Cup exit at the hands of Sweden is still reverberating around Italy, and it failed to give Buffon the farewell he truly deserves. Despite his intention to retire from international football after the nightmare in San Siro, the Juventus star recently made an appearance in a friendly game against Argentina.

However, the team’s 2-0 defeat by the Argentinians once again shows that all is not well in Italian football. And it that glorious World Cup triumph in Germany in 2006 certainly seems a long time ago.

DAVID ALABA (AUSTRIA)
Fußball DFB Pokal Halbfinale Bayer 04 Leverkusen FC Bayern München am 17 04 2018 in der BayArena i

Austria were never going to be the bookies’ favourites to win the 2018 World Cup, but there will be many football fans who will miss the incredible talents of David Alaba. The acclaimed defender has helped Bayern Munich pick up no less than six Bundesliga titles, but it seems that the Austrian team has yet to match his incredible skill.

The team struggled to a mediocre fourth place in the qualifying rounds behind Serbia, Wales and Republic of Ireland. And whilst this was a better result for Austria than their shocking performance in the Euro 2016 tournament, it still means that the side haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 2002.

Whilst Alaba will continue to work wonders with Bayern Munich team from his left-back position, it’s clear that we could be waiting a long time to see him really shine on an international stage.

VIRGIL VAN DIJK (HOLLAND)
Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool pre match during the UEFA Champions League QF 2nd leg match between Man

As if failing to qualify for the Euro 2016 tournament wasn’t bad enough, Dutch football fans had to suffer seeing their side dumped out of the qualifying rounds for the FIFA 2018 World Cup too. The side were beaten by on goal difference by the lucky Swedish side, but that would have been little consolation for their star defender, Virgil van Dijk.

Whilst the towering centre back is in rare form with his club side, Liverpool, he’ll have to spend the summer months watching his teammates Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino competing in the world’s greatest football tournament.

There are many questions remaining in the Netherlands about how the team have gone from ‘total football’ to total disaster, but the saddest fact is that the side’s ejection means that we won’t get to see Virgil van Dijk playing at the highest level of the game.

ANTONIO VALENCIA (ECUADOR)
SEVILLA 21 02 201 Champions League 2017 2018 1 8 Sevilla 0 0 Manchester United ManU Antonio V

Despite Ecuador having a pretty good record of qualifying for the World Cup, the side slumped in the South American qualifiers, and it means that Antonio Valencia misses out on what could have been his third World Cup tournament.

The right back is a consistently good performer for his Manchester United team, and he’ll be clearly frustrated that his international teammates couldn’t match his talents. But with dismal losses against the likes of Peru, Chile and Paraguay, it’s clear that Ecuador just didn’t have what it takes to make it through to the finals.

At 32-years of age, it’ll be interesting to see whether Valencia can inspire his team to greatness for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. But you should never bet against the formidable talents of this fiery defender, regardless of which team he is playing for.

MARCO VERATTI (ITALY)
Db Londra Inghilterra 27 03 2018 amichevole Inghilterra Italia foto Daniele Buffa Image nell

Marco Veratti is another star Italian player who will still be feeling the pain of his side’s ejection from the World Cup. The technically gifted midfielder couldn’t help his side to break the deadlock in their qualifier against Sweden, and his creative playmaking skills will be sorely missed from the FIFA World Cup this summer.

It’s been a difficult time for Verrati recently as he’s also had to endure his side, Paris St Germain, being dumped out of the Champions League by Real Madrid. But with rumours about possible transfers to either Barcelona or Manchester United, it’s clear that we haven’t seen the back of Verrati just yet.

The talented star is just 25-years old, and we can expect big things from him in the future. Hopefully Verrati has what it takes to deliver a long-awaited Italian renaissance for the UEFA 2020 tournament.

MIRALEM PJANIć (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA)
Mg Torino 22 08 2018 campionato di calcio serie A Juventus Napoli foto Matteo Gribaudi Image n

Juventus are having a fantastic time in the Serie A league at the moment, and much of their incredible form has been put down to the skills of their dynamic midfielder, Miralem Pjanić. However, we won’t get chance to see this talented star in Russia this summer as his national team, Bosnia and Herzegovina, failed to reach the final stages of the competition.

Bosnia and Herzegovina were unlucky not to get through the World Cup qualifiers, but costly losses against the likes of Cyprus meant that the team trailed behind Greece and Belgium in their group.

Miralem Pjanić clearly enjoyed himself at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil where he bagged an important goal in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 3-1 win against Iran. But it looks like the star midfielder will have to wait a little longer to play at the highest level of international football.

CHRISTIAN PULISIC (USA)
Dortmund Germany 2018 04 24 Training BV Borussia Dortmund BVB Christian Pulisic BVB gestikuli

The American team will be another surprising omission from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. With just three wins in ten games, the USA side limped out with a devastating loss to Trinidad and Tobago.

No one will be hurting from this defeat as much as Christian Pulisic who had been a driving force for the American team. But it’s evident that one star player cannot change the fortunes of an underwhelming team, and something needs to change if the US wants to return to top-level football.

Not that Pulisic will be short of high profile football, as he’s managed to carve out a role as attacking midfielder in the Borussia Dortmund team and we can expect to see plenty more great performances from this seriously talented player.

ARJEN ROBBEN (NETHERLANDS)
Jubel Arjen ROBBEN M mitte Fussball DFB Pokal Halbfinale Bayer 04 Leverkusen Lev FC Bayern

The Dutch exit from the World Cup also means that we will miss out on seeing Arjen Robben’s skills on the left wing. The 34-year old star announced his retirement from international football after Holland were booted out of the World Cup qualifiers.

Robben’s two goals in his last international match against Sweden were perfect examples of how this exceptional winger can really deliver results when the pressure is on. But the fact that Holland would have had to put seven past Sweden in order to qualify was too much for even Robben, and he will still be wondering how his team once again failed to make the cut.

Whilst there’s no shortage of talent in the Dutch side, with Robben gone, it’s going to be tough to see how they can return to the incredible form of yesteryear.

ALEXIS SANCHEZ (CHILE)
Chilean training in Kazan KAZAN RT 27 06 2017 CHILEAN TRAINING IN KAZAN Alexis Sanchez of Chil

As soon as Peru equalised against Columbia in the World Cup qualifiers, it meant last-minute heartbreak for Alexis Sanchez. The dramatic goal caused Chile to miss out in their quest to get to the FIFA World Cup 2018. After a crushing 3-0 defeat by Brazil and a string of middling results, it means that Chile won’t be at a World Cup for the first time since 2006 and we won’t get to see Sanchez’s incredible footballing skills in Russia.

It will be especially tough on Sanchez as he will still be bruised from the memory of his missed penalty kick against Brazil that caused Chile to drop out of the 2014 World Cup competition. The star striker had performed admirably in the previous World Cup games in Brazil. Not only did Sanchez manage to get the national team’s first World Cup goal against Australia, but his excellent goal against Brazil helped to propel his club career.

Most of us will remember how Sanchez instantly become a fixture on the Arsenal team, but his recent move to Manchester United has been more difficult for the star. Although many have claimed that his sub-par performances have been down to the fact that he’s not playing in his preferred position, it’s clear that that something’s not right at Old Trafford. But with a free summer to think things over, it’s hoped that this Chilean star can make a return to form soon.

GARETH BALE (WALES)
Real Madrid Gareth Bale during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Finals second leg match between Rea

There’s no doubt that Gareth Bale is one of the world’s best strikers. But it looks like the star will have to wait a little longer to make his first appearance at a World Cup, as Wales were pipped to a play-off spot by Republic of Ireland.

Bale has had a tough time recently with recurring injuries causing a lapse in form for both Wales and his club side, Real Madrid. The fact that Wales once again failed to qualify for the World Cup will be a bitter blow for Bale, as his exceptional form in the Euro 16 campaign led to the national team reaching the semi-finals. Although Wales were dumped out by Portugal, it was hoped that this marked a turnaround in the team’s fortunes. But with qualifier draws against Austria, Serbia and Georgia, it meant that we won’t see Bale and his team in Russia this summer.

Hopefully, Bale can make a recovery from his injury worries and help Real Madrid back to their past glories. But with ever-present transfer rumours circling around the talented winger, it seems that a new chapter could be starting in the story of Gareth Bale.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (GABON)
Dortmund Germany 27 01 2018 1 Bundesliga 20 Spieltag BV Borussia Dortmund SC Freiburg Auba

It was never going to be too much of a surprise to find that Gabon failed to qualify for the FIFA 2018 World Cup. But the side’s 3-0 defeat caused their star striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, to conjure up an interesting excuse for Gabon’s failure. Whilst the overall lack of top-class talent in the team could have been to blame, Aubameyang saw fit to draw attention to the substandard orange juice that was consumed by the team on the day of the match.

Regardless of the real reasons behind the team’s exit, it’s clear that Aubameyang might have to wait a long time before he finally makes an appearance at the World Cup. Gabon have never managed to qualify for a World Cup, and it’s evident that Aubameyang could be putting his club career before the interests of the national side.

Aubameyang was hardly likely to win many fans when he rejected a call-up from the Gabon team in their pivotal World Cup qualifying clash against Ivory Coast. Blaming what he called ‘transfer speculation’ for his absence, the striker may have sealed Gabon’s exit from the World Cup campaign. But with plenty more high-profile appearances for his new side, Arsenal, it seems that we haven’t seen the last of this talented star just yet.

Substitutes

Leonardo Bonucci is another talented Italian star who will miss out this summer, and the absence of teammates like Andrea Barzagli means that this year’s World Cup could be lacking a certain something.

Naby Keita will also be missed this summer as Guinea failed to qualify, but you can look forward to seeing the talented midfielder at Anfield after a dramatic Liverpool signing from RB Leipzig. And Armenia’s absence will also mean that we won’t get to see Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s outstanding skills in Russia this summer.

Leonardo Bonucci is another talented Italian star who will miss out this summer, and the absence of teammates like Andrea Barzagli means that this year’s World Cup could be lacking a certain something.

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