Best South America XI Who Won't Go to the World Cup
Every four years, the World Cup brings the best players from around the globe together in direct competition. But for every star who makes the tournament, there are just as many who are resigned to missing out on the great show.
With Brazil hosting this year, an extra place was opened up for South American teams. But four nations were left out after a fierce qualifying tournament, and plenty of great footballers will not be present from a hotbed of footballing talent.
Joining in one XI the best players from those countries left out of the World Cup, as well as a handful of men who for various reasons will not play for their own qualified team, here are the best stars you will not be seeing at Brazil 2014.
Justo Villar (Paraguay)
Ronald Raldes (Bolivia)
Juan Arango (Venezuela)
Juan Manuel Vargas (Peru)
Marcelo Martins Moreno (Bolivia)
Claudio Pizarro (Peru)
The former Boca Juniors goalkeeper has been vital in Malaga's rise to become one of Spain's most proficient clubs. Caballero came to prominence in the Andalusian's run to the 2011/12 Champions League quarter-finals, making a series of heroic saves to establish his name.
Club performances, however, have not led to an international resurgence. Caballero has never represented Argentina at senior level, and without a single call-up from coach Alejandro Sabella it appears certain that the World Cup is out of reach.
It is incredible to think that at the age of 40, Javier Zanetti can still be considered among the best full-backs in the world. However, 2014 is likely to see El Pupi once more miss out on the chance to go to the World Cup.
After being left out in 2006 and 2010 by Jose Pekerman and Diego Maradona, respectively, history will repeat itself for the Inter legend. Sabella has not included the veteran since taking over, preferring Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta on the right side of defence.
Central defender Antolin Alcaraz was exactly the kind of tough performer who made Paraguay such a tricky opponent in South Africa 2010. The Everton defender wrote his name into his nation's history books during the group stages, scoring against Italy as the South Americans left the Azzurri behind.
However, a disastrous qualifying campaign for 2014 which saw three different coaches on the Paraguay bench sealed the nation's fate. Alcaraz and the rest of the Guarani stars will have to watch the World Cup from home.
Fulham defender Fernando Amorebieta has the distinction of having represented three nations at international level.
A Spain youth star, the Cantaura native later changed his allegiance to the country of his birth, Venezuela, then played four friendlies as a member of the officially unrecognized Basque Country national team (his debut against none other than the Vinotinto!).
Now though, the former Athletic Bilbao giant has made his place in the middle of the Venezuela defence, adding stature and mobility to the back line. Amorebieta also wrote his place in history, scoring the goal that secured the nation's first-ever victory over Argentina.
While the name of Victor Yotun is still relatively unknown outside of his own country, the Sporting Cristal wide man is one of the best prospects in a young and dynamic Peru team.
His blasts down the left were a recurring feature of the nation's attack as they fell short of qualification.
For many years, Venezuela were considered the "Cinderella" side, the laughingstock of South American football. As the only team where the sport is not the nation's biggest (that honour goes to baseball) and the only side not to have qualified for the World Cup, the tag is not completely without merit.
The Vinotinto are a transformed institution, however, thanks to stars like Tomas Rincon. The uncompromising midfielder was excellent throughout the qualifying stage, as Venezuela fell agonisingly short of a historic first tournament.
With just a solitary World Cup appearance in 1994, Bolivia have traditionally been one of South America's minnows. A series of brilliant results have been secured at home in the dizzying heights of La Paz, but away from that fortress performances have rarely been consistent enough for qualification.
But the Andean nation have talent to spare. The 24-year-old Rudy Cardozo, currently fighting a Copa Libertadores quarter-final for Bolivar, represents the future for La Verde.
A dynamic midfielder who loves to get forward, Cardozo has a secret weapon: a blistering shot which makes him a real danger from distance.
Although Peru eventually missed out on a trip to the World Cup, they were far from a pushover. The Inca struggled to put together a consistent 16-game campaign, but on their day they were a match for any team, as Argentina could attest following an uncomfortable 1-1 draw in Lima.
The nation's best weapons came down the flanks, and Jefferson Farfan's incredible pace and penetration make up a large part of that potency. The Schalke favourite is an idol in his home nation, and at 29 he should have at least one more shot at playing in a World Cup.
Of all Alejandro Sabella's decisions, none have been discussed more vehemently than the exclusion of Carlos Tevez from international duty. The Juventus star last featured in the 2011 Copa America but since then has been left out in the cold.
Argentina do not lack attacking talent, but there is no doubt that a player of Carlitos' class and ability will be a loss to the tournament overall as he watches from afar.
Direct, powerful, quick with his feet and with a great awareness of where the goal is, Venezuela's Salomon Rondon was crucial throughout his team's qualifying campaign.
His five strikes during the competition made him the Vinotinto top scorer; with Farfan, he was also the top scorer out of any player not going to the World Cup.
Without a doubt the saddest absence from the World Cup, Ecuador powerhouse Christian Benitez played a huge part in the nation's qualifying for Brazil 2014 before missing out in the most tragic circumstances.
At the age of 27, the striker collapsed while playing for Qatari side El Jaish, per BBC Sport. The club confirmed that Benitez died of heart failure, casting a shadow over what will be Ecuador's third appearance at a World Cup.
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