In Focus: Wish you were here World Cup XI
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Toby Rathborne
LiveScore
Erling Haaland will not be at the World Cup after Norway failed to qualify
Erling Haaland will not be at the World Cup after Norway failed to qualify

A host of the globe’s brightest footballing talents will converge in Qatar for the World Cup — but not all are lucky enough to participate. 

Some have narrowly missed out on a place in their nation’s squads while others simply failed to qualify. 

With a plethora of big-name players absent, we have put together an XI of the stars football fans will be deprived of seeing in action.

Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)

Between the sticks is Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. 

Last year, the Azzurri stopper made two crucial saves in the shootout as the Euro 2020 final went to penalties, ensuring his nation emerged as champions. 

Since then, he has continued to assert himself as one of the finest keepers in Europe at Paris Saint-Germain. 

However, Italy’s shocking defeat to North Macedonia in the World Cup qualifying play-offs means that Donnarumma will not make any saves at this year’s tournament.

Sergio Ramos (Spain)

Among the biggest names to miss out is Spain defender Sergio Ramos, who has 180 caps for La Roja, as well as the experience of World Cup glory in 2010. 

But injury issues at PSG have resulted in a lack of game time for the 36-year-old, causing Spain manager Luis Enrique to leave him at home. 

However, the decision has raised many eyebrows, with critics suggesting the veteran should have been selected — if only for his leadership skills and presence in the dressing room.

Fikayo Tomori (England)

Following his move to AC Milan, Fikayo Tomori has been a standout performer for the Rossoneri, establishing himself as a key member of their back line. 

His displays at the heart of defence helped the Italian giants end an 11-year wait for Serie A glory last season, wrestling the title from their rivals Inter Milan. 

However, more was needed to convince England boss Gareth Southgate, who surprisingly opted for the likes of Harry Maguire, Eric Dier and Conor Coady ahead of the 24-year-old.

Sven Botman (Netherlands)

Newcastle defender Sven Botman has yet to make an appearance for the Netherlands
Newcastle defender Sven Botman has yet to make an appearance for the Netherlands

Sven Botman has put in an excellent run of performances for a Newcastle side that has risen to an impressive third in the Premier League. 

So far this season, the Magpies have conceded the joint-fewest goals in the English top flight (11), in large part due to his imposing presence at the back. 

However, Botman's form has not convinced Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal, who is yet to call the defender up. 

At just 22 years old, Botman is sure to play a role in the future for the Oranje — but being overlooked this year will certainly sting.

Andrew Robertson (Scotland)

Andrew Robertson has been struggling with a knee injury this season, yet the Liverpool left-back has still managed to rack up four Premier League assists. 

Scotland finished second behind Denmark in their qualifying group, meaning they needed to win two play-off rounds to advance — but they fell at the first hurdle, losing 3-1 to Ukraine. 

The Reds full-back will now have to wait another four years before the possibility of making his World Cup debut presents itself again.

Marco Verratti (Italy)

Marco Verratti joins his Italy team-mate Donnarumma in missing out on a trip to Qatar for this year’s World Cup. 

The PSG midfielder has been the midfield engine for the French champions, who continue their hunt for Champions League glory this season. 

Verratti’s combination of ball-winning and outstanding technical skill will be sorely missed under the bright lights in the Middle East.

Thiago Alcantara (Spain)

Another Liverpool man to sit out the global showpiece is their midfield orchestrator Thiago Alcantara. 

The 31-year-old had struggled with an injury earlier in the campaign but returned to the side in September and has been a regular fixture since. 

Spain boss Luis Enrique went for a younger option in teenage sensation Gavi, with the 18-year-old coming off the back of his breakout campaign for LaLiga leaders Barcelona.

Martin Odegaard (Norway)

Martin Odegaard is Arsenal's top scorer this season, with six goals
Martin Odegaard is Arsenal's top scorer this season, with six goals

Martin Odegaard started all 10 of Norway’s qualifying matches but could not help his nation secure a spot in Qatar. 

They finished third, three points adrift of second-placed Turkey and five points behind the Netherlands. 

Odegaard has had an excellent season with Arsenal and is their leading scorer in all competitions, netting six times for the Premier League leaders — but he will not be able to showcase his talent at the World Cup.

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Mohamed Salah has been a creative force for Liverpool this season
Mohamed Salah has been a creative force for Liverpool this season

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who has scored 14 goals in 21 appearances for the Reds this term, will be a real miss at the World Cup. 

Egypt’s qualifying campaign started positively as they topped their group undefeated — but they lost to Senegal on penalties in the play-offs. 

It was a harsh blow, considering they were beaten in the same fashion by the same opponents in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations final — and it means Salah will be 34 by the time the next tournament comes around.

Erling Haaland (Norway)

Manchester City’s marquee signing last summer, Erling Haaland has been in unstoppable form this season, netting 23 goals in 18 appearances. 

However, the 22-year-old phenomenon could not fire Norway to the World Cup after an injury forced the striker to watch his side from the sidelines in the last four fixtures. 

The budding superstar will be a significant loss at this year’s competition — although plenty of nations will be pleased that the goal machine is forced to observefrom afar.

Victor Osimhen (Nigeria)

Victor Osimhen has been prolific for Napoli in Serie A
Victor Osimhen has been prolific for Napoli in Serie A

Victor Osimhen has had an outstanding season in Italy, scoring 10 goals for a Napoli side that have won 16 of their last 17 fixtures in all competitions. 

However, he will not be making an appearance at the World Cup after Nigeria were knocked out on away goals by Ghana in qualifying. 

The Super Eagles’ striker was unable to assert his considerable talents on the contest with the Black Stars, being limited to just 40 touches across the two legs and recording only one shot on target.

Mohamed Salah and Erling Haaland both feature in this unlucky XI
Mohamed Salah and Erling Haaland both feature in this unlucky XI

Tags

World CupItalyNorwaySpainNetherlandsEnglandScotlandEgyptNigeriaMohamed SalahErling Braut Haaland
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