Alexis Sanchez and Gareth Bale headline a host of big names who will be absent from next summer's World Cup after their countries failed to qualify for the tournament. Sanchez's Chile lost 3-0 to Brazil and were then relying on results, which did not go there way, in other games for qualification. Legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will join them watching from the sofa this summer after Italy were dumped out by Sweden. And there are plenty of other big names that will not be playing in Russia. Here, My Nation picks an all-star XI from the players who won't be featuring at the tournament
The World Cup is the ultimate football festival on the planet. Players like Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle attained stardom after excelling in the most important moments on the biggest stage of world football. This is the tournament in which every football player aspires to excel and lead his nation to glory.
However, when it comes to entering into the competition only 32 teams from around the world are able to make it to the dream tournament and most of the established superpower end up missing out on their tour to the host nation. It so happens that most of the time, some of the star players of the club do not get the chance to show their wonders on the international stage because their national teams are not equipped enough to qualify for the tournament.
In this article we are looking at 11 players who would miss out their chance on the international stage because their teams did not qualify to make their journey to the host nation.
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
The 2006 World Cup Winning goalkeeper wished to sign retire in style from the international football by leading his team in the World Cup in Russia. Unfortunately for the greatest Goalkeeper, his team lost its chance to go to Russia by getting eliminated by Sweden in the playoffs.
The defeat reduced Buffon to tears in a scene which moved football lovers across the world.As a result, the 40-year old Italian legend announced his retirement from the international game but suddenly reversed his decision within a few months and got back into the team for the international friendlies. Having made 176 appearances for Italy, he's just 8 short of the all-time record and he'll be targeting to break that record. With the Euros a further two years away, it remains to be seen whether Buffon will stay that long as he'll be 42 then.
Luis Antonio Valencia:
Ecuador lost its chance to go to Russia by finishing at 8th position in the South American World Cup qualifying matches and Luis Antonio Valencia, the famous Manchester United winger turned fullback was not able to do anything to inspire his national team.
The Ecuador skipper is one of the most influential players of his national team but he will have to watch this edition from back home after he was unable to guide his nation to what would have been his third World Cup.
Left Back: David Alaba (Austria)
David Alaba, one of the best left backs in the world will be unable to present his talent in front of the world as his team finished fourth in their group of six and will now have to watch this World Cup from back home. Alaba is the best player of his country and is versatile and skilful enough to play in various different positions on the pitch and he usually plays in the midfield for Austria. The Bayern Munich player who has collected a large haul of trophies in Germany has had a dismal international career with Austria's dismal Euro 2016 campaign his only experience of a major tournament.
Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
Giorgio Chiellini made his international debut in 2004 and even though he was not part of the Italy's victorious World Cup campaign in 2006 still sinceI2007 he has established himself as Italy's first choice when it comes to centre backs. He is arguably one of the best centre backs in the world of football.
The Italian is a rock at the back and there are few players that match Chiellini’s passion for defending. He flies into crunching, but perfectly-timed tackles and seemingly loves nothing more than throwing his body on the line to stop shots on goal.
After going through a number of heartbreaks in the international arena Chiellini must have been hoping to sign off in style from the international arena but Italy missed out on the ticket to Russia. As a result the 33-year old announced his retirement with 96 caps under his belt.
Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands)
Netherlands, who finished third in the World Cup just four years ago, have since failed to reach two major tournaments in succession.Netherlands are facing uncertain times due to a talent drain as the youngsters are not good enough to replace the golden generation of Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Dirk Kuyt.Virgil van Dijk will play a key role in getting the Oranje back on track under Ronald Koeman as he has already been handed the captain’s armband by his former Southampton manager.The tall centre-back's commanding presence at the back will be crucial to Netherland's revival and the presence of the most expensive defender in world football will be missed at the World Cup this year.
Centre Midfield: Arturo Vidal (Chile)
Chile were regarded as the best team in South America, having won the previous two Copa Americas by beating Argentina in penalty shootouts in 2015 and 2016. However, Chile have stunningly missed out on World Cup qualification after just missing out on the CONMEBOL play-off spot to Peru. As the golden generation of Chile’s football is at the peak phase of their career, it is a massive blow for them to miss out on two important tournaments consecutively. Having made it to the knockout phases of the World Cup in 2010 and 2014, they were knocked out by Brazil on both occasions in the Round of 16.
With their dominance in South America however, they would have been expected to go better this time out, but Chile will have to make do with the players watching the other 32 teams battling it out in Russia. At the age of 30, it’s a massive blow for Arturo Vidal. Vidal is currently playing the best football of his career with Bayern Munich, and he would have been hoping to play a pivotal role to continue his title-winning spree from his clubs Juventus and Bayern Munich and Chile in the continental stage. He'll be 34 the next time the World Cup comes around, and it might be too late then to make a genuine attempt at a World Cup title win.
Centre Midfield: Marco Verratti (Italy)
Italy’s shining light in an uninspiring midfield will miss his second international tournament after Italy missed out on securing a birth in the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Sweden shocked Italy in the World Cup playoffs and with it dashed their hopes of making it to the World Cup in Russia.Verratti, who is extremely skilled at controlling the tempo of the game is one of the stars in Paris Saint-Germain squad and is rumourede to be wanted by massive clubs like Barcelona. The 23-year-old who is considered as Andrea Pirlo's successor will miss yet another chance to showcase his talents in front of the global audience after he only played a sparing role in their 2014 World Cup failure.Verratti will be hoping Italy can sort its problems out to get back into Euro 2020.
Left Winger: Gareth Bale (Wales)
Wales, who made it to the Euro 2016, their first global tournament since the 1958 World Cup, were the surprise packages in the tournament. A Gareth-Bale inspired Wales went all the way till the semifinals, beating Belgium en-route but lost to eventual champions Portugal.Expectations would have been that Wales would make it to the World Cup in a group that didn't consist of any of the traditional heavyweights. However, Wales surprisingly missed out on a spot in Russia after Serbia finished first to take the automatic qualification while Ireland beat them in the final game to take the playoff spot.Bale's absence hurt Wales badly and the Real Madrid man will thus miss out on the tournament and watch from the sidelines as his teammates from his club look to bring home the title.
Arjen Robben who has been a part of three World Cups announced his retirement from international football right after scoring twice against Sweden in the match for qualifying to go to Russia. Though, the veteran scored twice, Netherlands missed to secure it's spot in the World Cup this year.
Having played an inspirational role in Netherlands' successful World Cup campaigns in 2010 and 2014 when they finished runners-up and third respectively, the Dutch maestro was unable to pull his team through to this edition in Russia.Robben fluffed massive chances to win the title on that night in Johannesburg in 2010 and that will rank as a massive regret in his distinguished career. The 34-year old is in the final phase of his professional career and we'll have to make do with enjoying the trickery he still manages to come up with for Bayern Munich until it's too late.
Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
Alexis Sanchez has had a season that he would like to forget in a hurry. Alexis was keen on moving to Manchester City in the summer of 2017, but the transfer was denied by Arsenal who believed they would rather let him move on free the following year. Having won the previous two Copa Americas by beating Argentina in penalty shootouts in 2015 and 2016, Chile shocked the world by stunningly missing out on World Cup qualification after losing the CONMEBOL play-off spot to Peru. It's a massive blow for the golden generation of Chile football, as most of them like Alexis himself are in the prime phases of their career.
Sanchez had his wishes granted in January, as he moved away from Arsenal but to Manchester City's rivals- Manchester United. However, things have not been so smooth for the 29-year old as he has struggled to impose himself at Old Trafford. His arrival has also kept talented youngsters Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford out of the eleven, and his problems only continue to infuriate the United fans.
This is the case of a huge player hailing from a small non-traditional footballing country. Although Gabon have made seven of the last 11 African Nations even reaching the quarters as recently as 2012, they’ve never made a World Cup and this year wasn't going to be any different as they finished third in their group behind African giants Morocco and Ivory Coast.Aubameyang remains one of the best strikers in the game currently and his performances with Borussia Dortmund brought him a move to Arsenal earlier this season. Should he have stuck with France, his country of birth and the nation for which he made his debut at the Under-21 level?
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Last Updated 6, Jul 2018, 8:16 AM