The 2014 FIFA World Cup starts in a few weeks’ time, featuring some of the best footballers from around the world. But with all that talent on display, there are a handful of stand-out players who unfortunately won’t be in Brazil to show off their skills.
We decided to compile a squad of 23, made up of those who have had incredible 2013-14 seasons (based on their real-world Club stats) but were unlucky to not have their respective nations qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The versatile Gareth Bale had an incredible first season with Real Madrid, finishing with 15 league goals and an additional six across all other competitions. Wales had a fairly disappointing Qualifying campaign though, finishing fifth in a group that featured both Belgium and Croatia. Along with fellow countryman Aaron Ramsey, the duo scored seven of the country's nine goals over the 10 matches.
Robert Lewandowski will be spending the FIFA World Cup moving from Dortmund to Munich, but his last season with BVB still saw him lead the Bundesliga with 20 goals. Poland missed out on the FIFA World Cup, finishing fourth in their group behind England, Ukraine and Montenegro. Lewandowski had three goals in qualification, including two from the penalty spot.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the world’s most popular athletes and will be sorely missed at this year’s tournament. He finished the 2013-14 season with 26 goals, best in all of France. Sweden failed to qualify for Brazil after being knocked out by Portugal 4:2 in their two-leg playoff. Zlatan was his country’s best player, scoring eight goals across their 12 matches.
- GK: Petr Čech – Chelsea FC (England) – Czech Republic
- LB: Martin Olsson – Norwich City (England) – Sweden
- CB: Mehdi Benatia – AS Roma (Italy) – Morocco
- CB: Martin Skrtel – Liverpool (England) – Slovakia
- RB: Seamus Coleman – Everton (England) – Rep. of Ireland
- CM (CAM): Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Borussia Dortmund (Germany) – Armenia
- CM: Aaron Ramsey – Arsenal (England) – Wales
- CM (CAM): Mateusz Klich – PEC Zwolle (The Netherlands) – Poland
- LW (CF): Gareth Bale – Real Madrid (Spain) – Wales
- ST: Zlatan Ibrahimović – Paris Saint-Germain (France) – Sweden
- RW: Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund (Germany) – Poland
On the Bench:
- GK: Samir Handanović – Inter Milan (Italy) – Slovenia
- GK: Kossi Agassa – Reims (France) – Togo
- CB: Marko Basa – Lille (France) – Montenegro
- CB: Cédric Mongongu – Evian (France) – France
- RB: Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea (England) – Serbia
- LB: Papa Souare – Lille (France) – Senegal
- LM: Juan Arango – Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany) – Venezuela
- LM: Szabolc Huszti – Hannover (Germany) – Hungary
- RM: Jefferson Farfán – Schalke 04 (Germany) – Peru
- CM: Lasse Schöne – Ajax Amsterdam (The Netherlands) – Denmark
- ST: Alfred Finnbogason – Heerenveen (The Netherlands) – Iceland
- ST: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Borrussia Dortmund (Germany) – Gabon