The World Cup is just around the corner. Russia is ready and waiting for the superstars of football to come and work their magic. Every player and every manager in the world is raring to go, to bring that prestigious trophy back to their country and make their nation proud.
After a long and gruelling qualifying campaign, we finally have the list of the teams who will be making the trip to Russia. While the qualification campaign ended happily for some, for others it was disastrous.
When teams like USA, Chile, Netherlands and Italy fail to qualify for a major competition, the biggest international tournament for that matter, you know that some top quality players will miss out.
Hence, we take a look at the 5 best players who will miss the World Cup in Russia.
#5 Arturo Vidal (Chile):
A loss to Brazil, combined with poor results in other matches, saw Chile fail to qualify for the latest edition of the World Cup in Russia. The playoff spot went to Peru too, as the golden generation of footballers in Chile tried, yet failed to get their country to the big event.
Arturo Vidal, the heavily tattoed midfield workhorse is a player who will be sorely missed at the summer showpiece. He is well known for his influential presence on the pitch. He has won 97 caps for Chile and was instrumental in their two Copa America victories, winning the ‘Man of the Match’ in the final in 2015.
Vidal posted some cryptic messages after Chile did not make it to the World Cup indicating that he would retire from international duty. However, he later posted a heartfelt message for the Chilean people expressing his disappointment and stating he would be available for future call-ups to the national squad.
#4 Leonardo Bonucci (Italy):
Leonardo Bonucci is one of the best defenders in the world. A ball playing centre back, he used to play as a midfielder in the early part of his career.
Unfortunately, the Italian national team lost 0-1 on aggregate to Sweden in the qualification play-off. This was one of the biggest shocks of the qualification campaign, as the 4 time champions crashed out before the tournament even started.
This means that we will not be able to see Bonucci doing what he does best at the biggest tournament this summer. The Italian played 90 minutes against Sweden in the play-off with a broken nose, showing his level of commitment for his country.
The defender currently plays for AC Milan in Italy and turning 31 before the event starts in June, will be disappointed at not going to the World Cup in the prime years of his football career.
#3 Alexis Sanchez (Chile):
Another Chilean on the list, Alexis Sanchez will be a big miss at the World Cup in Russia. The ex-Barcelona forward moved to Manchester United in the January transfer window, with eyebrows raised at the kind of money he is earning in Manchester.
On the pitch though, the new no.7 has made a positive impact by picking up 2 Man of the Match awards in the 4 games he has been involved in. Sanchez is characterized by his pace, work ethic, skill on the ball and shooting ability.
A fantastic addition to any team, the Chilean has won 119 caps for his country. Aged 29, the attacker could be forgiven for thinking that this would probably be the last World Cup where he had a chance to showcase his talent.
#2 Arjen Robben (Netherlands):
Does the man need an introduction? When Netherlands failed to qualify for the second consecutive major tournament, all eyes turned to Arjen Robben. Some were rightfully disappointed to see a player of such class not featuring at the World Cup. But there was more heartbreak to follow, when he announced his retirement from international football.
Aged 34, Robben has had to deal with a number of injuries of late. But once fit and on the pitch, he barely looks his age. Who won’t miss him, cutting back on his left foot, taking a touch or two, and curling the ball into the net? On full flow, Robben was a menace to opposition defenders.
Many believe that this may well be the start of the downfall of Dutch football. With no big name player coming through, and with Robben departing, it only sheds light on the lack of quality left in the squad.
#1 Gianluigi Buffon (Italy):
Gianluigi Buffon is another man on the list, a true veteran of the game, who needs no introduction. Gli Azzuri’s failure to qualify for the World Cup meant there was no happy farewell for him in the summer. The Italian shot-stopper was left in tears after the game ended, shortly after announcing his retirement from international football.
Gianluigi Buffon will definitely go down as one of the best goalkeepers in history. He will always be spoken as one of the legends of the game. The 40 year old, who won a record 175 caps for his country, in all probability is in his last season for Juventus, stating that he would retire if they do not win the Champions League title this year.
In Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy have a ready-made replacement for his namesake. But there will never ever be another Buffon for the world to witness.