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GONE MISSING

World Cup 2018: A 23-man squad of players not going that will make you weep uncontrollably

Our selection of the world's best players not to be gracing the World Cup next year.

Qualification is complete.

The play-offs are done and dusted and the pots have been filled.


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Some of the biggest names of football, and Nicklas Bendtner, will be packing their bags for Russia next year.

Bendtner packs light.

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Bendtner packs light.

There were some big shocks throughout the qualifying campaign and here at Dream Team we have put together a best 23-man squad of players who will be missing the football bonanza.

We reckon this team might even have a good crack at winning the thing.

Let us know how far you think they would get in the comments.

Goalkeeper

Jan Oblak (Slovenia)

The Wall of Oblak. The Solvenian keeper was unfortunately drawn in the same group as the mighty England.

Despite providing the brick wall at the back of one of Europe’s meanest defences with Atletico Madrid, Oblak’s Slovenia teammates are not on the same planet.

Slovenia came fourth in their group behind England, Slovakia and Scotland.

Reuters
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Defence

David Alaba (Austria)

The Bayern Munich defender with a wicked left foot will not be showing off his skills in Russia.

Austria had a mixed qualifying campaign losing at home to Ireland, drawing with Wales and beating eventual group winners Serbia.

Alaba plays in a holding midfield role for the national side as opposed to on the flank at club level and would do a job for most teams at the tournament.

Silky skills.

Reuters
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Silky skills.

Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

Part of the Juventus backline that reached the Champions League final last season, Bonucci moved to AC Milan in the summer and his form hasn’t been the same since.

With Spain running away with the group Italy were always likely to face a play off and were unceremoniously dumped out by Sweden 1-0 on aggregate.

The defeat signalled international retirements for several Italian veterans, Bonucci included. Ciao Leonardo.

Rock at the back.

Getty Images - Getty
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Rock at the back.

Virgil Van Dijk (Holland)

The Southampton centre back, who could be at Liverpool by the time the World Cup starts, could not prevent Holland missing back to back tournaments following the failure to qualify for Euro 2016.

A late rally of four wins out of five wasn’t enough to displace France who won the group or Sweden who secured a play off place.

Watch that leg.

Reuters
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Watch that leg.

Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)

The Man United right back is Teflon.

He has survived at Old Trafford since the Fergie days and remains one of the most reliable fullbacks in the Premier League.

The South American qualifying table was extremely close until the last day with three places up for grabs in the final round.

Ecuador lost their final eight qualifiers, conceding 18 goals and didn’t really deserve it to be honest.

Give me that World Cup place.

Pictures supplied by ITV/Ruckas Pictures Ruckaspictures@btconnect.com Office (UK) : 01322
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Give me that World Cup place.

Midfield

Marek Hamsik (Slovakia)

The Napoli man has the coolest hair in football… or at least the most striking.

The mohican’d Slovak has been a crucial cog in the Napoli team currently leading Serie A.

Slovakia will count themselves extremely unlucky not to be at Russia next year.

They came second in their group behind England but missed out on a play off spot as the runner up with the lowest points tally.

At 30, that might be the last chance to see Hamsik at a World Cup again.

What a barnet.

Rex Features
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What a barnet.

Arturo Vidal (Chile)

The two-time Copa America winner nicknamed ‘The Warrior’ for his combative midfield presence will not be gracing Russia’s pitches.

The Bayern Munich midfielder and his compatriots slipped out of contention on the final round of games as Chile lost 3-0 to Brazil.

We are probably witnessing the end of Chile’s golden generation.

Don’t worry Arturo, you’re not by yourself.

EPA
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Don’t worry Arturo, you’re not by yourself.

Gareth Bale (Wales)

Thank god for Euro 2016.

Otherwise it is very possible we would never have seen Bale at a major tournament and my god he was good.

Injuries have seriously hampered his career at Real Madrid since and he couldn’t be the talisman he was for Wales in the Euros.

Bale watched from the stands as Ireland were victorious in a winner-takes-all final group game in Cardiff.

Wales’ best ever?

AFP or licensors
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Wales’ best ever?

Alexis Sanchez (Chile)

The world seems to have turned against Alexis.

At the peak of his powers at the age of 28, the Arsenal striker isn’t playing in the Champions League or in the World Cup.

Pursued all summer by Pep Guardiola and Man City, things could have been so different if Arsene Wenger had rubber stamped the move.

Sanchez scored seven times in qualifying but Chile were not good enough to hold onto a qualification place. Ah well, at least his dogs still love him.

“Now you can practice with Ramsey all summer”

Getty - Contributor
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“Now you can practice with Ramsey all summer”

Attack

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

Gabon’s record goalscorer and captain is by far the best player in a limited team.

Despite that, Gabon were in a difficult group consisting of Morocco, Ivory Coast and Mali and were facing an uphill struggle from the word go.

Aubameyang has been on lethal form for Borussia Dortmund this season scoring 10 goals in 11 games so far and it’s a shame we may never see him at a World Cup.

Definition of carrying a team.

Reuters
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Definition of carrying a team.

Ciro Immobile (Italy)

Another red hot striker unable to change his team’s fortunes. Immobile has netted 14 times this season for an unfancied Lazio side and leads the European Golden Boot charts.

But, the 27-year-old could not get close in 180 minutes against Victor Lindelof and FC Krasnodar’s Andreas Granqvist. Fraud? you decide.

Think long and hard about what you’ve done Ciro.

AFP or licensors
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Think long and hard about what you’ve done Ciro.

How would that team do in Russia next year?

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Pretty well we think.

Not to forget, there are honourable mentions to our subs bench below – another set of quality players missing a major tournament.

Subs

1. Gianlugi Buffon

2. Giorgio Chiellini

3. Serge Aurier

4. Christian Pulisic

5. Henrikh Mkhitaryan

6. Naby Keita

7. Andriy Yarmolenko

8. Marco Veratti

9. Daniele De Rossi

10. Arjen Robben

11. Edin Dzeko

12. Andrea Belotti

Two legends.

Getty Images - Getty
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Two legends.

There you have it. We will be missing some serious haircuts, loads of goals and a lot of big personalities.

Time for new stars to take the stage.