FIFA World Cup 2018: 11 players who missed the ticket to Russia

Infantino thanks Russia for hosting ‘best World Cup ever’

By Adwaidh Rajan

Though the fans at the 2018 World Cup in Russia will witness plenty of world class football talents, there are also a handful of them who will be missed at the championship due to one reason or the other.

2018 was supposed to be Leroy Sane’s year. After helping his club side Manchester City lift the Premier League trophy and winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award in England, the explosive 22-year-old winger was touted to play a key role in Germany’s quest for a record-equalling fifth title at the upcoming World Cup.

However, that is not to be the case. Sane won’t even travel with Die Mannschaft to Russia after being axed by Germany manager Joachin Low. Though the most surprising of emissions, Sane isn’t by any means the only casualty and is in some stellar company when it comes to players who were snubbed by their national teams for the upcoming tournament.

Injuries, lack of form, and incompatibility with coach’s style — the reasons are many, but we try to make a starting 11 with some of the best players who won’t be in action in Russia at the 2018 World Cup.

Sergio Romero (Goalkeeper) – Argentina – Age: 31 – Club: Manchester United – International caps: 94

The Manchester United second-choice goalkeeper was in line to guard the goals for Argentina at the World Cup and was even named in their 23-member roster on May 22. However, misfortune came in the form of an injury the very next day with Argentina’s official website announcing that Romero will be removed from the 23-member list as he “suffered a joint blockage in his right knee which requires surgery.” Though having only made 10 appearances for his Premier League club across all competitions, Romero was a consistent performer for La Albiceleste having been their man under the bar for both the 2010 and 2014 World Cup.

Dani Alves (Defender) – Brazil – Age: 35 – Club: Paris Saint-Germain – International caps: 106

The right-back has been an integral part of the Selecaos since 2006 and was expected to make his third appearance at a World Cup finals this month after helping them through an impressive qualifying campaign. However, it was a knee injury that became the villain to disturb his tale. Alves took the blow to his knee during PSG’s domestic cup final in May and required a surgery that ruled him out of the world championship. Manchester City’s Danilo is expected to fill in for the fullback.

Marcos Alonso (Defender) – Spain – Age: 27 – Club: Chelsea FC – International caps: 1

Marcos Alonso World Cup Absentee miss

Left wing-back Alonso is a vital cog in manager Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 at the London Club and has impressed one and all with his defending as well as productivity going up front. He is a goalscoring threat both from open play and from set pieces. He has scored the most goals for a defender in the English league over the last two seasons and made his international debut in March. But in the end, it wasn’t enough as Spain coach Julen Lopetegui decided not to pick him for his star-studded lineup.

Laurent Koscielny (Defender) – France – Age: 32 – Club: Arsenal FC – International caps: 51

Yet another player to miss out due to injury after being carried off in tears during Arsenal’s Europa League semifinal second leg against Atletico Madrid, Koscielny would have been the defensive rock of an exciting French national team who are a strong favourite at the 2018 World Cup. France coach Didier Deschamps summed it up when he said “it’s a very big blow” to have him sit out of the tournament. The Arsenal centre-back had intended to retire from international football after the tournament.

David Luiz (Defender) – Brazil – Age: 31 – Club: Chelsea FC – International caps: 56

The curly-haired Brazilian centre-back has silenced his critiques, who called him a PlayStation footballer early in his career, over the last few seasons. He helped Chelsea win the Premier League in Conte’s first season in charge and had a good start to the new season. However, a fallout with the Chelsea coach and an ill-timed injury has kept Luiz out of action for most of the second half of the season and in turn denied him a return to the Brazilian national team.

Radja Nainggolan (Midfielder) – Belgium – Age: 30 – Club: AS Roma – International caps: 30

Nainggolan is undoubtedly the best Belgian centre midfielder there is at the moment. But coach Roberto Martinez decided to name a roster without him for the World Cup. Naingollan reacted by calling time on his international career. Reports suggest that the AS Roma midfielder and the team’s Spanish coach had their differences. However, the 30-year-old would have brought in some attacking intent to a midfield that could now feature the likes of Mourane Fellaini, Axel Witsel and Mousa Dembele.

Fabinho (Midfielder) – Brazil – Age: 24 – Club: AS Monaco – International caps: 4

Fabinho might have had an exceptional couple of seasons in the French league that has earned him a big money move to Liverpool, but Tite can be justified in dropping the holding midfielder for the World Cup. That is because he already has Casemiro, Fernandinho and Paulinho at his disposal. However, if he continues his fine form in the red of the Merseyside club, he is bound to be part of the Brazilian national team in the years to come.

Leroy Sane (Midfielder) – Germany – Age: 22 – Club: Manchester City – International caps: 12

49 matches, 14 goals and 15 assists. Numbers which are impressive for any player. But Sane has been one of the Pep Guardiola’s main man as Manchester City won the Premier League and Carabao Cup double this season. However, Sane’s indifferent performance in the German colours was his undoing, according to national team coach Low. “That was a very close decision between him and Julian Brandt, which was made in favour of Brandt. Sane will be back again from September. He had not arrived in international matches yet,” explained Low.

Karim Benzema (Striker) – France – Age: 30 – Club: Read Madrid CF – International caps: 81

The veteran striker scored Real Madrid’s all-important opener against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League final but did not see his name featured in the France squad for the World Cup. In fact, the Los Blancos superstar hasn’t played for his country since 2015 after allegedly getting involved in blackmailing his former teammate Mathieu Valbuena. He might be winning every trophy that is available with his Real teammates, but his exile from the national team does not seem to end anytime soon.

Mauro Icardi (Striker) – Argenitna – Age: 25 – Club: Internazionale – International caps: 4

The 25-year-old’s goal returns for Inter Milan has been impressive, to say the least. He has scored 24 and 29 goals in the 2016-17 and 17-18 seasons respectively. However, Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli snubbed Icardi in favour of 22-year-old Boca Juniors hitman Cristian Pavon who is reportedly on the radars of top European clubs like Chelsea and Arsenal during this transfer window.

Alvaro Morata (Striker) – Spain – Age: 25 – Club: Chelsea FC – International caps: 23

Morata got off to a cracking start in England scoring 10 goals before the New Year, but the former Real Mardid star has shied away from scoring in 2018 netting only once. And his wastefulness in front of goal has cost him his place in the Spanish team. Valencia’s Rodrigo, Real’s Lucas Vasquez and Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas have all been picked ahead of Morata to deputise for their main striker Diego Costa of Atletico Madrid.

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart (England)
Defenders: Aymeric Laporte (France), Hector Bellerin (Spain)
Midfielders: Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Mario Gotze (Germany)
Forward: Anthony Martial (France)