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15 European stars we'll miss at World Cup

2018 World Cup: 15 European stars football fans will miss in Russia

November 15, 2017 By Ali M.
With the likes of Italy, Netherlands, and Wales failing to qualify; there is a long list of talented players who won't be in next year's competition.

 With there being only 32 spots in next year’s World Cup, 14 for Europe alone, a number of big nations were mathematically set to miss out on Russia. The upsets were shocking, with Italy, Wales, USA, and Chile failing to qualify for Russia.

As a result, several top European players will not be participating in next year’s tournament. Some will be fortunate enough to compete for a 2022 spot; others were searching for glorious ends to their international careers. 

Here are the top 15 players to miss out on the 2018 World Cup.

Gianluigi Buffon

This would have been a befitting end for the 2006 World Cup winner and goalkeeper of 175 caps. Unfortunately, Gigi was forced to retire from the Azzurri on the most unceremonious stage: a World Cup playoff.

Gareth Bale

Bale’s contribution this season has been minimum, having appeared in only five games in La Liga this season. Injury has been the culprit, even keeping him out of Wales’ 1-0 loss to Ireland which cost them their playoff spot.

Aaron Ramsey

The Welshman has had fine moments with Arsenal this campaign, scoring three and assisting as many in the Premier League. Unfortunately, Ramsey could not inspire the Dragons to a World Cup playoff, losing that spot thanks to a final day defeat to Ireland.

Arjen Robben

After making 96 apps and scoring 37 times for Netherlands, Robben retired from international football. The reason was their failure to qualify for the World Cup, as they finished third behind France and Sweden in Group A.

Marco Verratti

A highly-rated midfielder who was once top priority at Barcelona, the PSG ace has missed out on the 2018 World Cup due to Italy’s demise on the international stage. The maestro was limited to only seven apps during the entire qualifying round, scoring zero goals.

Marek Hamsik

Slovakia finished second in their group but was the worst second-placed team in the qualifying round. Marek Hamsik, who has been impressive with Napoli, will not be able to make it to Russia.

Lorenzo Insigne

With three goals and four assists in Serie A this season, Lorenzo Insigne is considered as one of the hottest attackers in Italy right now. Ventura sadly saw things differently,  starting him on the bench in both legs of the Azzurri’s playoff. That backfired as they lost to Sweden.

Edin Dzeko

Dzeko has seven goals in 11 games for Roma, but his Bosnia and Herzegovina side finished behind both Belgium and Greece in Group H.

Virgil Van Dijk

The Southampton defender missed out on a World Cup spot for the same reason as Robben: Netherlands’ qualifying campaign. An excellent run in Russia could have earned him a dream move away from Southampton, but that was not meant to be.

David Alaba

Alaba’s Austria side was the fourth-best team in their group, finishing behind Serbia; Ireland; and Wales. The full-back can now solely focus on winning the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Man United playmaker may be an ace in the Premier League, but his Armenia side was never likely to qualify. They finished second from last in Group E.

Leonardo Bonucci

He and his AC Milan side haven’t been performing excellently this season, but Bonucci is nonetheless a highly-rated center-back in Europe. However, he could do nothing as Italy drew blanks against Sweden in the playoffs.

Miralem Pjanić

The Juventus midfielder, who plays alongside Dzeko on the international level, couldn’t guide Bosnia and Herzegovina to the World Cup. He can now focus on tearing it up in Serie A, where he has two goals and five assists from seven games.

Arda Turan

Rotting on the bench at Barcelona, an impressive display at the World Cup could have earned Turan a move to another European giant. However, his Turkey side failed to qualify, with the player retiring after clashing with a journalist. He has since reversed his retirement.

Bas Dost

He’s probably one of the best strikers you have never heard of, and many will still not know of him due to Netherlands’ World Cup absence. With nine goals for Sporting Lisbon so far, he is one of the deadliest forwards in the Portuguese top-tier.


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