Gianluigi Donnarumma: And the newspaper “Gazzetta dello Sport” “Disastro Italia” wrote after Italy’s failure in the World Cup qualifiers for the second time in a row. Donnarumma, who led Italy to the European Championship title after making a save last year and was named world class goalkeeper in 2021, retired embarrassingly with the “Squadra Azzurra” in March. Italy lost 1-0 at home to North Macedonia in the play-off semi-finals, leaving Qatar with a fleet of Italian stars.
ReeceJames: With these words, the England right-back commented on his failure at the World Cup. The Chelsea player suffered a knee injury in the Champions League match against Milan in mid-October, which prevented him from participating. The absence of the 22-year-old represents a major setback for Gareth Southgate’s team, as he developed into an important player for the “Three Lions”.
David Alaba: The Austrian Sportsman of the Year won the Spanish Championship and the Champions League with Real Madrid, but the World Cup as the culmination of a public glory so rich in personal features the “royal” Minister of Defense was denied. Austria lost to Wales in the play-off and then parted ways with team boss Franco Voda. Alaba has two European Championship finals on his resume. Still missing the World Cup, 2026 could be the last chance for the now 30-year-old.
Sergi Ramos: Nor did Alaba’s predecessor participate in the World Cup as Real Madrid’s chief of defense. Spain coach Luis Enrique did without the 36-year-old defender, who is now with Paris Saint-Germain. This is not necessarily a surprise, as Ramos last wore the “Furia Roja” shirt in March 2021. For the 2010 champion and the 2008 and 2012 European champions, it was the fifth participation in the World Cup.
Ferland Mindy: The Frenchman has been a regular at Real Madrid since 2019 and one of the most decorated players. However, it was not enough to establish himself in the team of coach Didier Deschamps. The 27-year-old left-back never made it to Equipe Tricolor and has made just seven appearances to his name. Deschamps also favors the brothers Lucas and Teo Hernandez in Qatar.
Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante: The duo were the engines and lungs of ‘Equipe Tricolore’ in the 2018 World Cup triumph, but boss Deschamps will have to realign his entire midfield to defend the title. Pogba (Juventus Turin), 29, suffered a meniscus injury in pre-season and had surgery in September.
The 31-year-old Kante (Chelsea) has been plagued with injuries for months, playing just 175 minutes this season and eventually had hamstring surgery in October. “We will miss him because of his energy and experience. Even if top-class substitutes are available, he was really hurt by the absence,” explained Deschamps.
Thiago Alcantara: The 31-year-old has not been a part of Spain’s European and World Cup successes. Thiago missed the 2014 World Cup in his father’s Brazilian homeland due to injury. The World Cup in Qatar will also be held without one of the most talented midfielders in the world. Performances at his current club, Liverpool, also failed to convince Spain coach Enrique to give Thiago a place in the team. Instead of the 31-year-old, Spain would prefer to rely on Barcelona youths such as Pedri and Javi.
Mohamed Salah: The Liverpool star narrowly missed winning the World Cup ticket with Egypt. The Africans lost on penalties in the second leg against Senegal, and the two-time African Player of the Year also missed his try when the score was 0-0. Egypt lost the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations final, on penalties, to Senegal. Salah has participated in the World Cup at least once, scoring both of Egypt’s goals in 2018.
Roberto Firmino: Given the wide range of quality players in the Brazilian attack, the striker was not considered in the “Selecao”. Even the strong season at Liverpool so far has not been able to convince the president of the team, Tite. The 2018 finals will likely remain the 31-year-old’s only World Cup appearance.
Erling Haaland: The 22-year-old has been causing quite a stir at Red Bull Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund, and since the summer at Manchester City, where the Norwegian national team is still missing something. Despite the goalscorer, who was still working with Dortmund at the time, Norway finished only third in World Cup qualification behind the Netherlands and Turkey. The Scandinavians also missed last year’s European Championships, which means Haaland is still hoping to play in a major final.
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