Alexis Sánchez, Blog, Blog Post, Christian Pulisic, FIFA World Cup, Gareth Bale, Leagues, World Cup Qualifying, World Cup Qualifying - UEFA

Gab Marcotti is given the floor to share his true feelings on Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Alexis Sanchez and Gareth Bale headline a host of big names who will be absent from next summer’s World Cup after Chile and Wales failed to qualify for the tournament.

Italy were the biggest casualties from the playoffs, with a number of their stars retiring afterwards, while the U.S.’s big hope for the future, Christian Pulisic, will also miss out.

With all 32 teams now confirmed, here is an all-star XI from the players not on the plane to Russia 2018.

World Cup
This team would compete well, just not at the World Cup.

GK: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy/Juventus)

The 39-year-old is one of the best goalkeepers of all-time but couldn’t inspire Italy past Sweden and has now retired from international duty. The Juventus legend can now focus on his dream of winning the Champions League.

RB: Antonio Valencia (Ecuador/Manchester United)

A string of consistent performances at right-back led to Valencia being named Players’ Player of the Year at Old Trafford last season but the 32-year-old could not inspire Ecuador to what would have been his third World Cup.

CB: Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands/Southampton)

Van Dijk has made no secret of his desire to leave St Mary’s but, if he is still there next June, he will miss the opportunity to showcase his talents on the biggest stage following Netherlands’ third-placed finish in UEFA qualifying Group A.

CB: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy/AC Milan)

A tough choice in this XI between him and former Juventus teammate Giorgio Chiellini (who has also retired from Italy alongside Buffon, Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Barzagli) but Bonucci played through a broken nose against Sweden and the 30-year-old may still have one more chance to play at a World Cup in 2022.

LB: David Alaba (Austria/Bayern Munich)

A winner of six Bundesliga titles and the Champions League, Alaba’s international career has been less illustrious with Austria’s abysmal Euro 2016 campaign his only experience of a major tournament.

CM: Naby Keita (Guinea/RB Leipzig)

The Liverpool-bound midfielder will be fresh when he arrives at Anfield next summer after Guinea could not qualify from a group containing Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya.

CM: Arturo Vidal (Chile/Bayern Munich)

The midfielder, who starred in the last two World Cups, was suspended for Chile’s final qualifier against Brazil and watched on powerless from Munich as his team were eliminated.

LW: Gareth Bale (Wales/Real Madrid)

It has been a positive few years for Wales but the Euro 2016 semifinalists were pipped to a playoff spot by the Republic of Ireland, meaning Bale’s wait for a first World Cup goes on.

AM: Christian Pulisic (United States/Borussia Dortmund)

One of the world’s brightest young talents will have to wait at least another four years to make his mark on the biggest stage of all after the U.S. failed to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1986.

Alexis Sanchez has won the last two Copa America tournaments with Chile but will not be at the World Cup next year.

RW: Alexis Sanchez (Chile/Arsenal)

Chile suffered last-minute heartbreak as they were pushed out of a playoff place when Peru equalised against Colombia, meaning the Arsenal star will not be sprinting up the flanks for La Roja in Russia.

ST: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon/Borussia Dortmund)

Gabon have never qualified for the World Cup and the African country’s shortage of top-class players means talented forward Aubameyang may never have the opportunity to play at one.


Jasper Cillessen (Netherlands/Barcelona)
Daley Blind (Netherlands/Manchester United)
Gary Medel (Chile/Besiktas)
Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Juventus)
Marek Hamsik (Slovakia/Napoli)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenia/Manchester United)
Arjen Robben (Netherlands/Bayern Munich)
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria/Leicester)
Edin Dzeko (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Roma)

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