On Friday, the draw for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was made. But who are the best players who will not be a part of the tournament in South America next summer?
Here, we look at an XI made up of the best players who won't be in Brazil...
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech – Czech Republic
2014 probably would have been the last World Cup for the 31-year-old. The Czechs finished third in Group B behind Denmark and heavyweights Italy. Cech is one of the best goalkeepers to have graced the English game and I still see him in the top five goalkeepers in the world.
Honourable mentions: Wojciech Szczesny and Samir Handanovic.
Right-back: Branislav Ivanovic - Serbia
The Serbians finished third in group A behind Croatia and high-flying Belgium. Ivanovic is naturally a centre-back but he has flourished playing as a full-back.
The Chelsea man makes good overlapping runs down the right and has the occasional goal in him.
Honourable mention: Lukasz Piszczek.
Centre-back: Neven Subotic - Serbia
Borussia Dortmund’s Subotic is one of the best defenders around. The sad thing is, he would have missed the World Cup even if Serbia had qualified. He was ruled out for the rest of the season after injuring himself against in November.
Honourable mention: Mehdi Benatia.
Centre-back: Nemanja Vidic - Serbia
Another Serbian in the team. What is it about Serbia and world-class defenders ? The Manchester United skipper is the best defender in the world when fit.
Niggling injuries every now and then have somewhat lowered his level of performance in recent games but he’s still a fine fine defender when fit.
Honourable mention: Daniel Agger.
Left-back: David Alaba - Austria
Bayern Munich’s 21-year-old Alaba is Austria’s best player and a very talented left-back. Don’t be surprised if he establishes himself as the best left-back on the planet very soon.
Honourable mentions: Aleksandar Kolarov and Carlos Zambrano.
Right-midfield: Jakub Błaszczykowski - Poland
Błaszczykowski is not the flashiest of players but he’s a steady and consistent performer for both club and country.
Honourable mention: Arda Turan.
Centre-midfield: Christian Eriksen - Denmark
Tottenham Hotspur’s Eriksen is too good a player to miss the World Cup. The 21-year-old is taking his time to settle down in England but his talent has never been in doubt.
On the bright side, he will have many more opportunities to showcase his talents on the international stage.
Honourable mentions: Aaron Ramsey and Henrik Mkhitaryan.
Centre-midfield: Marek Hamsik - Slovakia
Napoli’s Hamsik is one of the best midfielders in the world. His exclusion from the World Cup hurt me more than any other. The Slovaks finished third in Group G behind Bosnia & Herzegovina and Greece.
Brazil will not only miss a very talented midfielder but also one of the most ridiculously brilliant hairstyles.
Honourable mentions: Nemanja Matic.
Left-midfield: Gareth Bale - Wales
The most expensive player in the history of football won't be playing in the World Cup. Wales finished second from bottom in Group A.
Just like compatriot and footballing legend Ryan Giggs, Bale might never feature at a major international tournament. The World Cup will miss a truly wonderful player.
Honourable mentions: Stevan Jovetic and Andriy Yarmolenko.
Forward: Robert Lewandowski - Poland
Lewandowski has established himself as one of the best strikers in the game. Poland performed well below their standards in the qualifiers, finishing fourth behind Montenegro, Ukraine and England in Group H.
Honourable mentions: Mirko Vucinic and Lazar Markovic.
Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Sweden
Ibrahimovic is probably the biggest name among the players missing the 2014 World Cup. The former Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and current Paris St. Germain man came second to Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in the play-offs.
This was not his fault, though as Ronaldo was different class in those two games. Ibrahimovic’s cockiness, arrogance and exceptional footballing ability would have set the World Cup on fire. We will be missing a great player.
Honourable mentions: Burak Yilmaz.
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