<
>

World Cup unqualified XI: Alexis Sanchez, Gareth Bale, Gianluigi Buffon

play
Shaka Hislop's World Cup predictor (3:36)

From the group stage to the final, find out who ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop has lifting the World Cup trophy in Russia. (3:36)

The World Cup contains the best players on the planet. Oh, except these guys. They didn't even make the tournament.

GK: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)

No Champions League title, and no World Cup this summer after defeat to Sweden in the playoffs. Italy's No. 1 deserved a better end to his career. Perhaps he'll be back for 2022, aged 44?

RB: Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)

A standout performer for Manchester United, but the 32-year-old couldn't lift his country and Ecuador finished eighth in a 10-team group in CONMEBOL.

- Play ESPN FC Match Predictor
- What you need to know about all 32 teams
- Team posters: Former winners, fan favourites, star players
- Borden: The new hooligans of Russia
- Thompson: Pogba is ready to shine

CB: Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands)

Being the world's most expensive defender (at £75 million) probably matters little if you don't have a World Cup to go to. The Dutch were pipped at the post by Sweden to the Group A playoff spot.

CB: Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)

Another Italy veteran to miss out. Chiellini will never have another chance to be bitten by an opponent on the world's biggest stage.

LB: David Alaba (Austria)

Austria may have beaten world champions Germany in a friendly this week, but their fans will be asking where that form was in qualifying. The Bayern defender couldn't help his team past Serbia or Ireland. Or Wales for that matter.

CM: Marek Hamsik (Slovakia)

Napoli's all-time leading scorer may be one-up on Diego Maradona in that respect, but the Argentine did a bit better at World Cups. Slovakia were the worst runner-up and their 12 points saw eight other teams advance to the playoffs ahead of them. Unlucky No. 9.

CM: Naby Keita (Guinea)

Liverpool's new arrival will have had a summer of rest. Tunisia booked top spot in CAF's Group A and Guinea lost five of their six games.

AM: Christian Pulisic (USA)

The United States' great young hope will have plenty of time to get his country back on track, but won't be in Russia. Panama and Honduras sneaked through in the Hex on the final matchday, leaving the Dortmund teenager distraught.

FW: Gareth Bale (Wales)

Sorry world, no overhead kicks from Bale this summer. At 28, the Welsh winger should get another chance to haul his country to a World Cup, but he hasn't been able to match his club success. Wales did better than Austria in Group D, but it wasn't enough.

FW: Alexis Sanchez (Chile)

Manchester United will be excited at the prospect for a player who boasts arguably the most amount of stamina in world football getting a summer off. But Chile missed out on goal difference in CONMEBOL as Peru claimed the playoff spot.

ST: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

Arsenal will also be pleased to have their £56m record signing spending the summer preparing for the new Premier League season. Gabon couldn't stop Morocco progressing from CAF's Group C.