Erling Haaland, Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez… Choose a best eleven of players who will not be at the World Cup
Costa Rica became the latest team to book their place at the 2022 World Cup with a 1-0 win over New Zealand in the second intercontinental play-off on Tuesday night.
We now know the 32 teams that will take part in the tournament in Qatar, which begins on November 21.
Many football-proud nations failed to qualify, including four-time winners Italy, and some of the game’s greatest players missed out on the tournament.
Here we take a look at a best XI of players who won’t be at the World Cup…
GK: Jan Oblak (Slovenia)
One of the greatest goalkeepers of the modern era, Slovenian captain Oblak could very well end his career without ever appearing in a major international tournament.
Slovenia finished fourth in their Qatar 2022 qualifying group behind Croatia, Russia and Slovakia, their last major tournament appearance coming at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
DR: Vladimir Coufal (Czech Republic)
Coufal enjoyed another impressive season at West Ham, helping the Hammers finish seventh in the Premier League and reach the Europa League semi-finals under David Moyes.
But he and his West Ham team-mate Tomas Soucek will miss the World Cup after the Czech Republic finished third in their qualifying group behind Belgium and Wales and then lost 1-0 to England. Sweden in their play-off semi-final. final in March.
The Czechs, who were World Cup finalists in 1934 and 1962 while competing as Czechoslovakia, have failed to qualify for the tournament on four successive occasions.
CB: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
It is still hard to understand how Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup, less than a year after being crowned European champions at Wembley.
After finishing second in their qualifying group behind Switzerland, Roberto Mancini’s side suffered a shock defeat to North Macedonia in the World Cup semi-final play-offs.
As a result, a number of legendary Italian players, including Juventus stalwart Leonardo Bonucci, likely played their last World Cup.
Speaking after the loss to North Macedonia, Bonucci criticized the play-off format: “We played everything in one game, it’s an absurd system. Unfortunately, that’s how it happened , but it’s a crazy decision.”
CB: David Alaba (Austria)
Last summer, Real Madrid defender Alaba captained Austria to the Euro 2020 Round of 16 for the first time in their history, where they lost to eventual champions Italy.
But Austria’s hopes of back-to-back major tournament appearances were dashed when they lost 2-1 to Wales in their World Cup semi-final in March, having finished fourth in their qualifying group behind Denmark, Scotland and Israel.
Austria last qualified for the World Cup in 1998 and the 2026 tournament in Canada, Mexico and the United States will likely be Alaba’s last chance to reach the tournament.
GM: Andy Robertson (Scotland)
Like Austria, Scotland last qualified for the World Cup at France 1998. They nearly ended that long wait this time around but were beaten by Ukraine in their World Cup semi-final delayed last month.
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson has apologized for Scotland’s lackluster performance in the emotional match at Hampden Park.
“It’s hugely disappointing because we’ve waited a long time for this game. Our performances before were really good but to be honest we didn’t really show up,” admitted Robertson.
It summed up a disappointing end to the season for Robertson, who also tasted defeat in the Champions League final to Real Madrid just days after Manchester City narrowly beat Liverpool to the Premier League title.
DM: Marco Verratti (Italy)
The second Italian on our list, Verratti was part of the side that lost to North Macedonia in their World Cup semi-final play-off in March.
After the loss, the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder apologized to the Italian fans and urged journalists to direct their criticism at the senior members of the squad.
“I don’t think the best way to deal with this is to insult everyone, because each of us tried to give it our all. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough,” Verratti said.
“Above all, please leave the young players alone, if you really want to insult us ‘older’ guys, because sometimes you forget that we are just people like you, normal people, and that we too feel the greatest emotions in the smallest things.”
WC: Martin Odegaard (Norway)
A standout performer for Arsenal this season, Odegaard is yet to feature in a major tournament for Norway.
They missed out on a place at Qatar 2022 after finishing third in their qualifying group behind the Netherlands and Turkey.
Norway have not qualified for a major international tournament since Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands, with their last World Cup appearance coming in France 1998.
WC: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Since winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019, not much has gone well for Algeria.
A terrible defense of their AFCON title at the 2021 tournament saw them finish bottom of their group behind Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.
They were then beaten by Cameroon in a spectacular World Cup play-off in March. Ahmed Touba’s 118th-minute goal appeared to have secured Algeria a place in Qatar, but Karl Toko Ekambi scored a spectacular goal in the 124th minute to send Cameroon on the away goals rule.
As a result, Manchester City winger Mahrez misses the World Cup, having previously featured for Algeria in the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
LW: Luis Diaz (Colombia)
One of the signings of the season, Diaz immediately started in the Premier League after being signed by Liverpool from Porto in January. But he will not take part in the World Cup after Colombia failed to qualify for the tournament for the first time since 2010.
They finished sixth in the ultra-competitive South American qualifying group, with only the top four earning an automatic berth in Qatar and the fifth-placed team entering the intercontinental play-offs.
There were dim hopes Colombia would secure a World Cup spot if Ecuador, who finished fourth in qualifying, were sent off over allegations that their defender Byron Castillo played despite being ineligible.
However, following an investigation into these allegations. FIFA have now closed their disciplinary proceedings against Ecuador, who retained their place at the World Cup.
RW: Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Mohamed Salah must curse his luck after a year of missed chances with Liverpool and Egypt.
After losing to Senegal on penalties in the AFCON final in February, Egypt were beaten by the same opponents in the World Cup play-offs in March.
Salah would also miss the Premier League title and the Champions League in the final weeks of the domestic season.
Speaking after the play-off loss to Senegal, Salah hinted he could retire from international football after appearing in just one World Cup with Egypt, the 2018 tournament in Russia.
“I can’t say much, but it was an honor to play with you whether or not I made the national team after that,” Salah said.
ST: Erling Haaland (Norway)
Arguably the most high-profile player on the list, Manchester City’s new signing Erling Haaland will be a notable absentee from the World Cup after Norway failed to qualify.
Norway had moved into a strong position halfway through the qualifying campaign thanks in large part to the prolific form of Haaland, who has scored 20 goals in 21 appearances since making his national team debut in 2019.
But an injury to the striker which forced him to miss their last four qualifiers sabotaged their progress, with Norway ultimately falling short after a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands.