Missing from Action
Some of the game’s biggest stars are set to light up the stage at Brazil 2014, but others will be forced to watch the action from the comfort of their own homes…
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Sweden
The Paris Saint-Germain sensation will be missed come the summer. An immense talent in front of goal, Ibrahimovic saw his dreams of Brazil 2014 end in a play-off loss to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Only two players – Robin Van Persie and Edin Dzeko – scored more than Ibra’s eight in European qualifying. “One thing is sure, a World Cup without me is something I won’t be following,” he says.
Gareth Bale – Wales
He may be the world’s most expensive player, he may star for one of the planet’s biggest clubs in the form of Real Madrid, but Gareth Bale is penalised by the struggles of the Welsh national side. Pitted in Group A, they finished behind Belgium, Croatia, Serbia and Scotland. Bale may never play at a major international tournament – a loss for him and a global audience.
Robert Lewandowski – Poland
One of Europe’s best strikers, Robert Lewandowski netted three times in qualification but that wasn’t enough to see Poland on the plane to South America. The Borussia Dortmund man’s outfit finished a disappointing fourth behind England, Ukraine and Montenegro in a fairly balanced group.
Carlos Tevez – Argentina
Argentina will be one of the fancied sides at Brazil 2014, but don’t expect Carlos Tevez to be in their squad. Despite his talent and scoring feats at Juventus this season, the former Manchester City and United man is seen as surplus to requirements by boss Alejandro Sabella. What a waste.
David Alaba – Austria
A talented Bayern Munich left-back who scored an impressive six goals in qualification, the world won’t be watching David Alaba – his country’s youngest ever international – this summer. Pitted in a group that Germany dominated, Austria finished just three points shy of a Sweden side who qualified for the play-offs.
Branislav Ivanovic – Serbia
Captain of the Serbian national side, Chelsea stopper Branislav Ivanovic featured in all 10 of his country’s qualifying matches for Brazil 2014. He scored one goal and provided two assists in the process, but Serbia finished third behind Belgium and rivals Croatia – mainly because of their poor away form.
Arda Turan – Turkey
A tricky left-winger who plays for Atletico Madrid, Turan is always a good watch given his unpredictability. The scorer of two goals in qualifying, Turkey were out-performed by Holland, Romania and even Hungary in Group D.
Stevan Jovetic – Montenegro
For so long in qualifying it looked as if Montenegro would net at least a play-off place, but it wasn’t to be with England and Ukraine finally flexing their muscles. That means we won’t be able to enjoy the individual brilliance of the Manchester City man. At the age of 24, though, he has time on his side.
Petr Cech – Czech Republic
A goalkeeping institution at Chelsea and with his national side, Cech’s hopes of playing in a second World Cup were dashed given the inconsistency of his national side in a qualification group which consisted of Italy, Denmark and Bulgaria.
Kevin Strootman – Holland
A key member of the Dutch international side, the midfield enforcer will miss the Finals in Brazil 2014. Although a revelation at Roma following his summer move, Strootman damaged knee ligaments in March which will see him sidelined for at least six months.
…and those fighting to recover in time: Radamel Falcao (Colombia) – Knee injury, Sami Khedira (Germany) – Knee injury, Giuseppe Rossi (Italy) – Knee injury, Jack Wilshere (England) – Broken foot, Makoto Hasebe (Japan) – Knee injury