The qualification process for Brazil is long behind us, and the 32 countries participating in the prestigious FIFA World Cup are getting ready to shine on the international stage. Converse to the face that many sides that have progressed have little to no international stars (Russia, Honduras and Algeria, for some examples), many teams who haven’t qualified do have a couple of world-class players, and here we’ll take a look at 5 star players we’ll miss seeing in Brazil.
Gareth Bale (Wales)
Wales ended up 2nd to last in Group A of the World Cup qualification, from which Belgium
and Croatia (1st and 2nd respectively) progressed, and Serbia, Scotland and Macedonia also lost out. After a 2-0 loss to Belgium and a 6-1 thrashing by Serbia, Wales certainly don’t seem like World Cup material, but not seeing Gareth Bale in Brazil will be a shame. Having recently broken the world record for most expensive football signing when Real Madrid bought him from Tottenham Hotspur for €91 million, he’s gone on to create some great assists for teammate Cristiano Ronaldo as well as scoring incredible goals of his own for the Spanish club.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)
Sweden were prevented from playing in the World Cup largely by the winners in qualification Group A, Germany. Although they won the bulk of their games, against Germany they drew 4-4 (in which Ibrahimovic scored Sweden’s first goal), and lost 3-5. They also lost one of their games against Austria, which saw them finish in second place, forcing them to play (and lose) against Portugal in the UEFA Second Round. Ibrahimovic, having played for world class sides Barcelona and AC Milan, could have really shone on the international stage; it’s just a pity that the rest of his side is somewhat lackluster.
Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Poland saw a quick end to their World Cup dreams when they were edged out of qualification Group H by England and runners-up Ukraine (who lost to France in the Second Round playoffs). Lewandowski is far and away the brightest star on the Polish side, currently striking for Borussia Dortmund, and is sure to be the apple of many managers’ eyes come transfer season later this year. Had he been able to strut his stuff in Brazil, he certainly may have affected some World Cup 2014 winner odds by upsetting many defensive back lines.
David Alaba (Austria)
As with Sweden, Austria lost out in qualification Group C, coming third behind Germany and Sweden. Alaba is currently a crucial part of the defensive line as a left back at Champions League cup holders Bayern Munich, having previously played for SV Aspern and Austria Wien. Having won the prestigious title of Austrian footballer of the year in 2011 at only 19 years of age, he clearly has a bright future; just not in Brazil in 2014.