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Soccer World Cup

Picking A Starting XI From Teams Not Going To Brazil

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Picking A Starting XI From Teams Not Going To Brazil

Starting XI
RVR Photos - USA TODAY Sports

Every World Cup there are players who don’t get a chance to showcase their talents on the biggest stage because their nation does not qualify. Some absences are shocking due to upsets in qualifying while other players simply represent nations that will likely never make a World Cup.

Stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Radamel Falcao, Franck Ribery and Luis Suarez will all be in Brazil next year vying for the chance to lift the coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy. Spain and its overabundance of stars will be looking to defend the title and keep the trophy for four more years.

While the majority of the best players in the world will be playing in Brazil next June and July, a handful of stars will be sitting at home watching their teammates compete for the title of “World Champions." Players who are in contention for player of the year in their respective leagues will not be featuring in Brazil.

With the a number of stars unable to feature in the World Cup next year, picking a starting XI of the best available players isn’t too difficult to do. As with any starting XI, substitutes are needed, meaning this is really the best 18 players not featuring in Brazil. It may surprise you to see some of the names of players that will not be featuring next year. A 4-4-2 formation will be used to create this starting XI.

Now let’s take a look at who made the cut.

Zachary Holden is a Soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter (@Zachary_Holden), "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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GK - Petr Cech

Cech
Scott Rovak - USA TODAY Sports

One of the best and most reliable goalkeepers over the past few years, Chelsea’s Petr Cech gets the nod between the sticks. The Czech Republic representative has only featured in one World Cup, 2006 in Germany, and finished third in the group ahead of the United States.

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RB - Branislav Ivanovic

Ivanovic
Robert Mayer - USA TODAY Sports

Cech’s club teammate Branislav Ivanovic leads off the back line at right-back. The Serbian native featured in the 2010 World Cup squad that finished last in the group but did nab a shocking 1-0 victory over Germany.

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CB - Neven Subotic

Subotic
Witters Sport - USA TODAY Sports

Sticking with the trend, Ivanovic’s national teammate Neven Subotic starts in the central defense. The Serbian could have easily been in Brazil next year had he decided to represent the United States. However, after a falling out with then United States U-20 National Team coach Thomas Rongen in 2006, Subotic decided Serbia was the nation he wanted to represent. He was named in the 2010 World Cup squad alongside Ivanovic.

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CB - Daniel Agger

Agger
Inge Knoff - Wikimedia Commons

Joining Subotic in the center of defense is Denmark’s captain Daniel Agger. Featuring in his first and only World Cup back in 2010, Agger plies his trade for Liverpool and has established himself as one of the best center-backs in the Premier League.

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LB - David Alaba

Alaba
Witters Sport - USA TODAY Sports

Rounding out the defensive four is UEFA Champions League winner David Alaba. The young Austrian is one of the best up-and-coming left-backs in the world right now, and it’s evidenced by his starting position in Bayern Munich’s squad. Alaba finished Austria’s unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign as the leading scorer with six.

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RM - Jakub "Kuba" Blaszczykowski

Kuba
Witters Sport - USA TODAY Sports

Starting at right midfield is a man who was part of the Champions League runners-up to Alaba’s Bayern Munich. Jakub “Kuba” Blaszczykowski stars for Borussia Dortmund and his country Poland. Kuba has never featured in a World Cup having to pull out of the 2006 event due to a hamstring injury. An unsuccessful 2010 and 2014 qualifying campaign means Kuba will have to wait until Russia in 2018 if he hopes to feature in a World Cup.

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CM - Christian Eriksen

Eriksen
Dmitrij Nejmyrok - Wikimedia Commons

National teammate of Agger’s, Christian Eriksen occupies the first spot in the central midfielder role. The young midfielder actually featured in the 2010 World Cup as an 18-year-old, the youngest player on the team.

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CM - Aaron Ramsey

Ramsey
Image Courtesy of Aaron Ramsey Official Facebook

Easily one of the most in-form players in world soccer right now, the Wales and Arsenal midfielder joins his club rival in the center midfield. Although he has never featured in a World Cup, Aaron Ramsey has represented Great Britain at the 2012 Summer Olympics, his only international tournament appearance of note.

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LM - Gareth Bale

Bale
Laura Hale - Wikimedia Commons

Fresh off his mammoth transfer to Real Madrid, fellow Welshman Gareth Bale takes up the role of left midfielder. One of the best players in the world, Bale has never featured in a World Cup. He was eligible to compete for team Great Britain in the Olympics last year, but pulled out due to an injury.

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ST - Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski
Witters Sport - USA TODAY Sports

One of the deadliest strikers in the world will not be in Brazil for the World Cup next year. Poland’s Robert Lewandowski has only featured for his nation in the UEFA Euro 2012 in terms of international tournaments. The Borussia Dortmund ace will hope he can take his goal scoring talents to Russia in 2018.

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ST - Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibra
Dmitrij Nejmyrok - Wikimedia Commons

The man who scores when he wants, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will not be in Brazil either next year. Joining Lewandowski as one of the best strikers in the world, if not the best, Ibrahimovic was knocked out of the World Cup qualifiers by fellow superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. The 32-year-old made his first World Cup debut in 2002 for Sweden and has gone on to feature in both tournaments since then. He’s also played in every European Championship since 2004. Following Sweden's elimination at the hands of Portugal, Ibrahimovic said, “A World Cup without me is nothing to watch,” on his app Zlatan Unplugged.

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Substitutes

Subs
Laura Hale - Wikimedia Commons

Wojciech Szczesny

The Arsenal and Poland goalkeeper has the duty of backing up Cech. Szczesny started for Poland in the Euro 2012 but was sent off in the first match and did not feature again.

Aleksandar Kolarov

Another Serbian, Kolarov can play backup to either Alaba or Ivanovic in the back line. The Manchester City defender joined fellow squad mates on this list, Ivanovic and Subotic, at the 2010 World Cup.

Martin Skrtel

The Slovak center defender will join Liverpool teammate Daniel Agger on the team. Skrtel was a part of the Slovakia team in 2010 that made it to the round of 16 in its first appearance as an independent nation before losing to the Netherlands 2-1.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Armenian central midfielder has burst into the mainstream since his transfer to Borussia Dortmund. He is a vital member of the Armenian national team, but it’s unlikely he’ll ever feature in a major competition.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Borussia Dortmund striker/winger represents the nation of Gabon. Having never qualified for a World Cup, Gabon did make it to the 2012 Olympics where Aubameyang scored the lone goal against Switzerland.

Arda Turan

Turkey has not competed in a World Cup since 2002, meaning Arda Turan has never featured on the biggest stage, albeit a star for his club team Atlético Madrid. He did feature in the 2008 Euro where he scored three goals and converted a penalty in the quarterfinal shootout against Portugal to advance to the semifinals where they would lose to Germany.

Oscar Cardozo

Backing up Ibrahimovic and Lewandowski is Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo. Last featuring in the 2010 World Cup, Cardozo played the role as substitute for the White and Red’s shocking run to the quarterfinals and scored the decisive fifth penalty in the round of 16 shootout win over Japan.