Unfortunately, when there’s a winner there has to be a loser and many of the world’s best talents will be missing out on next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. However, how would a starting XI of the world’s finest players that will not be appearing in Brazil shape up? Take a look at the following side and ponder how well they would fare on the world stage in South America...
(GK) Petr Cech – Czech Republic: The experienced Chelsea shot-stopper may have missed out on his last opportunity to represent his national side at a World Cup after the Czechs finished third in Group B, behind Denmark and four-time winners Italy. The defeat at home to Armenia proved a pivotal moment and one which Cech and his fellow natives will surely reflect upon in anguish.
(RB) Branislav Ivanovic – Serbia: Another high-profile Chelsea player, this time in the form of Serbian defender Ivanovic, will be watching the prestigious competition from afar in the summer of 2014.
The Serbians were narrowly edged out by Croatia for the playoff-round qualifying spot in Group A after Belgium had succeeded in winning the group and gaining automatic qualification for Brazil.
Serbia’s catalyst for an unsuccessful qualification campaign was undoubtedly their inconsistent form. Comprehensive victories against Wales and Macedonia were marred by disappointing defeats to Scotland and Belgium.
(CB) Daniel Agger – Denmark: The Danes finished runners-up in Group B behind the might of Italy but were denied a spot in the play-off round after concluding the group stages as the lowest second placed nation, with a tally of 16 points.
This agonising elimination will be a bitter pill for Liverpool defender Daniel Agger to swallow, especially after Denmark proved such a formidable opponent throughout the Euros in 2012 where they defeated 2010 World Cup finalists Holland.
(CB) Mehdi Benatia – Morocco: Benatia was born in France but represents Morocco at international level. He has a high reputation in Serie A and is viewed upon as one of the best defenders in Italian football.
Formerly of Udinese and now a key member of the emerging Roma side, Benatia would have been realistic of his nation’s chances of qualifying for football’s most famous tournament despite the abundance of talent that he possesses.
(LB) David Alaba – Austria: Bayern Munich left-back Alaba has certainly made his way up the footballing ladder in recent years. The 21-year-old is one of the most promising talents European football has to offer and is already pledging his case to be known as the best in the world in his position.
Austria were denied entry into the play-offs by Sweden, however it’s fair to say that Alaba will have plenty more opportunities to represent Austria in future World Cups to come.
(RM) Gareth Bale – Wales: Similar to the case of Welsh legend Ryan Giggs, one of the great tragedies is that a player of Gareth Bale’s quality will struggle to achieve any major success with his country. The most expensive player in the world after his transfer to Real Madrid, Bale will arguably be the biggest name not to feature in Brazil. Wales disappointingly finished second from bottom in Group A.
(CM) Aaron Ramsey – Wales: The Welshman has been the surprise package of the new Premier League campaign, giving many exquisite performances in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield. So far this season, Ramsey has netted 13 goals in 21 appearances for club and country, including goals against Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund.
However, if Wales are to qualify for a tournament in upcoming years, they will have to produce more players of similar quality to the 22-year-old.
(CM) Marek Hamsik – Slovakia: Napoli midfielder Hamsik is most definitely the name that catches the eye when scanning the Slovakia squad. Hamsik has attracted a lot of attention across Europe including rumoured interest from Chelsea and is another key name that will be missing out on the World Cup in 2014.
Despite finishing a respectful third place in Group G, the Slovakians were a gaping 12 points adrift of a second place finish which would have seen them progress to the play-offs.
(LM) Arda Turan – Turkey: Turan is one of Atletico Madrid’s prized assets, having made his move to Spain from Galatasaray in 2011. The 26-year-old is also a very influential member of the Turkey squad, scoring 13 goals in his international career so far. However, the Turks missed out on a place in the play-offs after finishing just three points behind Romania in Group D.
(ST) Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Sweden: It was a terrible shame that one of either Cristiano Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic were going to be absentees from the World Cup this summer.
Portugal and Sweden went head-to-head in the play-offs and both players provided evidence as to why they would be ever so missed in Brazil. Unfortunately, even after scoring twice in Stockholm, it is the Swede who will not be participating in the forthcoming competition.
(ST) Robert Lewandowski – Poland: Another world-class striker whose name will not be up in lights in Rio is Borussia Dortmund goal-machine Lewandowski. Poland will be desperately disappointed with their performance in Group H after finishing fourth behind Montenegro, Ukraine and England.
Now that the striker’s summer plans have opened up, will it supply him with more time to force a move to Dortmund’s German rivals Bayern Munich?
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