World Cup 2014: Star Names Set to Miss the Summer's Brazilian Showpiece
Arsenal's Theo Walcott became the latest player ruled out of the World Cup after the forward suffered cruciate knee ligament damage sustained in the FA Cup third-round win over Tottenham on January 4th.
There is no doubt England will miss the Arsenal player, who has hit top form in recent weeks. But the World Cup will still have its fair share of quality on show. This summer we'll still see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Franck Ribery, and the whole Spanish team, but there are a number of players who will miss out. Here’s a list of some of the other star names that will be missed in Brazil.
Petr Cech: Chelsea/Czech Republic
The Chelsea goalkeeper played played in every minute of his nation's group stage qualifying campaign but won’t be in Brazil as the Czech Republic was unable to secure their place.
The Chelsea shot-stopper conceded just nine goals in ten matches, according to FIFA.com, as his side finished third in the group, a point behind Denmark and seven behind eventual winners Italy.
Branislav Ivanovic: Chelsea/Serbia
Chelsea's hard-hitting Serb won't feature this summer. The defender played in all 10 of his nation's group games, scoring once. But four away defeats cost a strong Serbian side a chance to shock the world next summer.
Meanwhile the Serbian will be out for a month, confirmed Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, the BBC reported, after he hurt his knee and came off in the first half of the game on 29th December against Southampton.
Daniel Agger: Liverpool/Denmark
Danish defender Daniel Agger will be disappointed he isn't going to Brazil. The Liverpool defender hasn't seen much playing time this season under Brendan Rodgers.
Agger has only started 15 games in all competitions this season and has been ruled out four weeks with an injury.
According to the Guardian's Marcus Christenson via Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the defender has ruled out leaving Anfield:
I am not thinking along those lines at the moment, I don't. I haven't heard anything apart from what is being written [about a move to Napoli] but I can't do much about that. There is no point spending any time [on those rumours].
I have been unlucky at different points of the season. That's the way it is in football when there are so many players [to choose from]. Before one game I suffered a stomach injury and before another I got ill the night before the game and I would have played both times. So at times you are a bit unlucky. When the team is doing well then it becomes difficult.
Agger playing nine qualifiers and scored five goals during World Cup qualifying, ESPN stats show.
Martin Skrtel: Liverpool/Slovakia
Liverpool's Martin Skrtel has been their most important defender this season, playing 19 games for the Reds in the Premier League, Sky Sports stats show.
But the Redman won't be at the World Cup because his home nation, Slovakia, finished 12 points behind eventual group winners Bosnia it what was a relatively easy group, FIFA.com stats show.
Joined by his fellow defender Daniel Agger, the pair will have to watch from their sofa's as the world's best go head-to-head in Brazil.
David Alaba: Bayern Munich/Austria
After winning numerous trophies in 2013 with German giants Bayern Munich, left-back David Alaba saw success with Austria limited.
The defender, who has remained a key part of Pep Guardiola's new Bayern Munich, managed to score six goals for Austria - stats on transfermarkt.co.uk show - in qualifying but they fell short in their quest to reach Brazil.
Finishing third in Group C, a tough group won by Germany, they were only three points behind Sweden, who went on to lose to Portugal in the play-offs.
Kwadwo Asamoah: Juventus/Ghana
The Juventus wingback has been integral to Antonio Conte's team this season as they continue to lead Serie A.
The Ghaniana was instrumental in Juve's title win last season and has reiterated his hopes of staying at the Bianconeri after he caught the attention of some of Europe's biggest clubs.
I am doing well and Juve is one of the biggest clubs in the world. Moving to another club has not come to mind.
Asamoah scored seven goals in all competitions last season and assisted seven and has played a key role on the left in Conte's 3-5-2 system.
Gareth Bale: Real Madrid/Wales
Last season's marquee signing, the Real Madrid star won't be setting Brazil on fire with his performances after Wales missed out again on a World Cup.
Gareth Bale may have been this summer's most expensive transfer, and one of the most expensive of all time, but he won't be going to the World Cup to join his pal and Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
Bale's absence isn't the first time a Welsh legend will miss a World Cup. Another Welsh winger in the form of Ryan Giggs has never made it to the World Cup. But that can hardly be his fault, as Wales have only been once in 1958.
Having finished in fifth place in Group A this time around, Bale led his team in scoring (four goals) despite playing just seven games, ESPN stats show.
This wasn't enough to save the Welsh though, finishing behind Belgium, Croatia, Serbia and even Scotland.
Arda Turan: Atletico Madrid/Turkey
Arda Turan has been instrumental in Atletico Madrid's rise in La Liga this season.
The creative midfielder was the best player on the pitch in Sunday's top-of-the-table clash with Barcelona, looking like the most effective player on the pitch. The Turk was exceptional both in attack and defence. His performance earned him the admiration of four-time Ballon d'or winner Lionel Messi, who swapped shirts with him, as this video shows.
But a fourth-place finish in Group D behind the Netherlands, Romania and Hungary was a poor return for Fatih Terim's Turkey side, with Turan only showing marginally levels of his genius. He only scored once in his nine group appearances, ESPN stats show.
Jakub Błaszczykowski: Borussia Dortmund/Poland
2013 couldn't have got any worse for Poland midfielder and captain Jakub Błaszczykowski.
The midfielder lost the Champions League final to Bayern Munich, then saw his Polish national team finish fourth, nine points behind eventual winners England in Group H.
The right-sided midfielder will be hoping 2014 is a better year, but with Bayern Munich 12 points ahead of their yellow rivals, things are looking bleak.
Robert Lewandowski: Borussia Dortmund/Poland
The worst kept secret in football was the eventual transfer of Robert Lewandoski to Bayern Munich from rivals Borussia Dortmund.
The polish striker had been linked with the Bavaria giants since last season but his transfer was finally announced on January 4th, the Guardian reported via Reuters.
But if you think Dortmund will miss him, so will the World Cup. Lewandowski, whose pace and control has seen him score 11 league goals so far this term for Dortmund, will be joing Munich on July 1st on a free transfer, reported Reuters. He only managed to score three goals in nine games for the national side., ESPN stats show.
He was the Bundesliga's third-highest scorer with 22 in 2011/12 and second in the scoring charts with 24 last season.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: PSG/Sweden
If there is one player who fans could wish to have at the World Cup, it would be Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
On Monday, the Sweden international's strike for his country against England in November 2012 saw off competition from Nemanja Matic and Neymar to win the Puskas Award for his memorable overhead kick. And that's what we will miss.
The Paris Saint-Germain star scored four goals to defeat England 4-2 in the first match at the Friends Arena in Solna back in November 2012. But Sweden's path to qualification was met with a stiff German test.
ESPN stats show that scored 8 of his side's 21 goals in qualifying but that wasn't enough as Germany dominated the group. The Swedes made the playoffs but lost to a cameo by Cristiano Ronaldo as Portugal went through.
Zlatan was so taken back by Ronaldo's performance, he even stepped back and applauded him, reported the Metro.