The World Cup is merely eight months away and so the line-up for international football’s premier competition has just about been decided.
Yes, we finally have a clear picture of who we can – and for the purpose of this article – can’t expect to see at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.
There are a few outliers whose futures still hang in the balance, namely Wales and Scotland, who have some big stars in Gareth Bale and Andy Robertson that would be sure to make this list should they fail to qualify.
But honestly, we don’t want to see any more big names miss out because this team is too good as it is.
Check out our top XI not going to the World Cup:
GK – Jan Oblak
CB – Leonardo Bonucci
CB – Giorgio Chiellini
CB – Leonardo Spinazzola
CDM – Jorginho
CDM – Marco Verratti
RAM – Riyad Mahrez
CAM – Martin Odegaard
LAM – Luis Diaz
ST – Mohamed Salah
ST – Erling Haaland
Now, that team would most likely win a World Cup, but these world beaters aren’t even getting on the plane…
The honourable mentions aren’t too shabby either: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexander Isak, Yves Bissouma, Lorenzo Insigne, Nico Barella, the list seems endless.
How did it come to this?
Mostly, Italy are to blame. Their shock exit at the hands of North Macedonia has stacked this team with some top talent, especially from a defensive point of view.
You can bet plenty of strikers will be rubbing their hands together at the thought of not having to come up against the reigning European Champions, who conceded just four goals on route to gaining their crown.
Elsewhere, Haaland and his compatriot Odegaard led Norway through a disappointing qualifying campaign that saw them finish behind the Netherlands and Turkey.
Manchester City star Mahrez won’t be on the plane after Algeria lost to the Cameroon in dramatic fashion.
It all went wrong for Liverpool’s pacey wingers – unless your name is Sadio Mane – as Salah and Diaz bowed out of their qualifiers empty handed.
Egypt were again defeated by Senegal via penalty shoot-out, with Salah missing a crucial spot kick as opposition fans controversially aimed lasers into his eyes; meanwhile, Diaz’s Colombia were beaten to a play off spot by Peru.
And finally, Atletico Madrid’s brick wall Oblak was a certain for the team as Slovenia got nowhere near contention for the big time.
The World Cup is scheduled to get under way on November 21st, with the final on December 18th at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar.