SCORE with theSun JUNE 12, 2018

WorldCup missing XI

commitment tohis nationcan’t be questioned. This was high lighted after he played with a broken nose in Italy’s the World Cup playoff defeat to Sweden. CB : Eric Bailly (Manchester United and IvoryCoast) Signed from Villarreal last summer, Eric Baillywon the 2015 AfricaCup of Nationswith his country and also inspired Manchester United to their Europa Cup victory in the 2016/2017 season. Was out injured for ManchesterUnitedandwhenhehecameback, fell out of favour with JoseMourinho. RB : AntonioValencia (Manchester United and Ecuador) Probably one of the few players who deserve to wear the

major tournament for Borussia Dortmund’s rising starChristianPulisic. Still only 19, Pulisic is already the biggest star in the US team and washeavilycriticisedintheUSmediafollowing their embarrassingexit inthe final gameagainst Trinidad and Tobago. The teenager will still have a chance to in years to come. ST :Mauro Icardi (InterMilan andArgentina) Going by his domestic form this season, Mauro Icardi is the most noticeable absentee from any squad. Argentina are renowned to haveattackingoptions tospare, and leavingout a player who has worked wonders for Inter Milan in Serie A, undermines that statement andhas evenHernanCrespoconfused. If Iwas in Jorge Sampaoli’s shoes, Icardi would have been preferred to Juventus’ GonzaloHiguain. RW : Gareth Bale (Real Madrid andWales) After “probably thebest goal inChampions League final history”, Bale will be a miss in Russia. It has been a positive few years for Wales but the Euro 2016 semifinalists were pipped to a playoff spot by the Republic of Ireland, meaning Bale’s wait for a first World Cup goes on. With Ryan Giggs taking the helm, Wales and Bale might just be on their way to Qatar. Well, who knows. SUBS GK : SvenUlreich ( B a y e r n Mu n i c h a n d Germany) Football can be a cruel and unforgivingplace, especially if you’re a German goalkeeper. The 29-year-old Sven Ulreich was a shoo-in for a place in the Die Mannschaft’s squad. Aside from a horrific blunder during the Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid, the Bayern Munich goalkeeper had a tremendous season covering for Manuel Neuer in between the sticks for theGerman champions. CB : Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City and France) Didier Deschamps was spoilt for choicewhen picking his final 23, and while he has a team pepperedwith luminaries, there are plenty left out in the harsh cold despite having a strong seasons at club level. Aymeric Laporte’smove to Manchester City from Athletic Bilbao did not help secure his place in the French team. The toil of having to compete with Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany seldom saw him given a consistent run of games, but his talent is undeniable. LB : Alex Sandro (Juventus andBrazil) Juventus’ double-winning campaignwould ordinarilyhaveplacedSandro in contention to make thegrade forBrazil.However, the trouble is that he is too much like Marcelo in almost everyway. Tite consideredMarcelo a safer bet due to his serial winning habits. CM : RubenNeves (Wolverhampton andPortugal) Anyone who has watched Wolves in the Championship this season will have seen RubenNeves and the impact of this playmaker in taking Wolves to the Premier League. Everyone, includingmyself, expectedhimtobe one of the first names on the plane for the EuropeanChampions but that wasn’t the case. The former Portomanwas instrumental in the heart of theWolves team and if Portugal have twoor threebettermidfielders than the21-year- old maestro, they are going to be major contenders inRussia. ST : Pierre-EmerickAubameyang (Arsenal andGabon) Moving to Arsenal in January, Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang is his country’s most prominent star. Although hewas been scoring on all frontswithBorussiaDortmund andnow withArsenal, hewas unable to guideGabon to international success.

includedWales and Serbia, Austria struggled and failed to reach one of the top two places. ForAlaba, thismeans that he continues towait to take part in his first everWorldCup. CB : Leonardo Bonucci (ACMilan and Italy) Definitelyoneof thebest defenders inworld football, LeonardoBonucci’sdefensiveabilities wi l l be mi s s ed i n Russia.Hemoved

BY KISHENALEX RAJ W ITH the World Cup having only 32 countries, and with each coach having only 23 slots in their teams, there are a host of players who will not grace the biggest show on earth that starts on Thursday – either because they have been omitted or did not qualify for the tournament. Here are the bestX1 plus subs thatwill not take the field in Russia. GK : Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus and Italy) Italy is perhaps the most prominent victim of this qualificationcycle. The Azzurri failed to overcome Sweden in their playoffs, and as a result, long-standing legendary keeper Gianluigi Buffon could not take part in what would have been his fifth World Cup this summer.Witha total of 175 caps forhis country, Buffon is a living legend in Italian football, and alsowill no longer play for Italy. LB : DavidAlaba (BayernMunich andAustria) BayernMunich’s leftback David Alaba will m i s s the World Cup after a disastrous World Cupqualification campaign for A u s t r i a . D r a w n

from Juventus to AC Milan last summer a f t e r a conflict with Juvemanager Massimiliano A l l e g r i . Although his s e a s on wi t h Milan did not go as planned, h i s

Manchester United jersey.

With none of the ego o r s o c i a l m e d i a shenanigans of many of h i s t e a mm a t e s , Valencia just gets on withthegame,bombs down the right flank anddeliversdangerous crossesweek in,week out. However, the 32- year-old could not inspire Ecuador to what would have been h i s t h i rd WorldCup. CM : Marco Verratti (PSGand Italy) The 25-year- old midfielder Marco Verratti is and will still be one of the most sought- after players on t h e t r a n s f e r m a r k e t . L a s t season, PSG resisted offers fromthe likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona to hang on to the

i n t o a g r o u p t h a t

Mauro Icardi

midfielder. Considered one of the best playmakers in the world game today, Verratti has often been compared with Barca’s legend Xavi and the WorldCupwill be slightlydimmerwithout his skills on display. CM : RadjaNainggolan (Roma andBelgium) Aplayer covered fromneck to toe in tattoos, hesmokes, drinks andswears; carries adubious reputation for indisciplineand is ahell-raiser in general. While off-field trouble is never far away from him, on-field he causes a lot of mayhem to the opposition. A larger than life figure inRoma, hemaymakeRobertoMartinez regret picking Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel. CM : ArturoVidal (BayernMunich andChile) This box to boxmidfielder, who starred for Chile in the last two World Cups, was suspended for his country’s final qualifier against Brazil and powerlessly watched from Munich as his team were eliminated. The World Cup will sure misss a player of his caliber. LW : Christian Pulisic (BorussiaDortmund andUnited States) This World Cup would have been the first

Radja Nainggolan

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