Euro 2020 Special

FIFA World Cup 2022: The Absent All-Star XI

The FIFA World Cup 2022 is scheduled to begin on November 20, with the edition likely to be the final swansong for the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

While the legendary forwards will be the central focus in the tournament, another talking point is the absence of certain key players who have dominated the sporting world with their top performances in recent months.

A few have failed to make the cut to the World Cup with their team missing out on qualification, some have suffered long-term injuries that have ruled them out at least till the end of the year and some, in particular, have been dropped from the participating nation’s rosters for unspecified reasons.


Goalkeeper: David de Gea

Manchester United’s David de Gea was a surprise exclusion from Luis Enrique’s provisional Spain squad for the FIFA World Cup 2022. With 45 appearances under his belt and once tipped as the successor to legendary custodian Iker Casillas, de Gea has seemingly slipped down in the pecking order for Spanish goalkeepers that account for their ball-playing qualities.


Defender: Reece James

One of England’s first-choice full-backs, Reece James has been ruled out of England’s World Cup campaign after suffering a knee injury in a UEFA Champions League game earlier in October. The Chelsea defender, however, remains optimistic of making it into Gareth Southgate’s final list.


Defender: Giorgio Chiellini

In the final lap of his senior career, Giorgio Chiellini had hoped to play a part in the FIFA World Cup having missed out in 2018. The veteran Italian defender, now plying his trade with Los Angeles FC in the MLS, was part of the team that lost to North Macedonia in the European qualifiers and subsequently registered their second consecutive absence from the World Cup. Chiellini retired from international duty following the 0-3 loss to Argentina in the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions.


Defender: Milan Skriniar

Slovakia’s Milan Skriniar has seen his stock go up as one of the top centre-backs in Europe in the last two seasons, from leading Inter Milan to a Scudetto in 2020-21 and then winning the Coppa Italia (2021–22) and Supercoppa Italiana (2021) in the following season. Skriniar has been linked with a move away from the San Siro, but the demand is likely to cool down given his absence from the FIFA World Cup 2022.


Defender: Andy Robertson

Scotland failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022, meaning Liverpool fans will miss out on seeing left-back Andy Robertson in action. A 1-3 defeat to Ukraine in their World Cup play-off meant Robertson’s Scotland missed out on a sixth successive World Cup.


Midfielder: Georginio Wijnaldum

Georginio Wijnaldum suffered a freak injury after his debut game for AS Roma, and has since been ruled out of action at least for half of the season. The former Liverpool midfielder, who joined Roma on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, fractured his tibia in training and opted against undergoing surgery as part of his ongoing rehab.


Midfielder: N’Golo Kante

N’Golo Kante is one of the long-absentees for France heading into the FIFA World Cup. The Chelsea midfielder underwent surgery for a hamstring injury suffered in August, and is estimated to have an injury layoff at least till the end of 2022.


Midfielder: Marco Reus

A man with a bad fate with injuries, Marco Reus is set to miss out on the FIFA World Cup 2022 with Germany. An attacking midfielder capable of operating as a forward, Reus suffered a fresh ankle problem shortly after returning from ruptured ankle ligament in October. Germany, nonetheless, have plenty of options to cover his absence in his preferred position.


Forward: Diogo Jota

Portugal will rue the absence of Diogo Jota in their frontline at the FIFA World Cup 2022. The Liverpool forward suffered a calf injury towards the end of 1-0 win against champions Manchester City in October.


Forward: Mohamed Salah

It’s been a few tough months for Mohamed Salah in international football, from losing the African Cup of Nations 2022 final to Senegal to missing out on a ticket to the FIFA World Cup. The Liverpool star forward has 49 goals in 86 senior appearances for Egypt and is one of the major club-level superstars to not feature in the marquee competition besides Erling Haaland.


Forward: Erling Haaland

One of the biggest, if not the, absentees in the upcoming edition of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Erling Haaland and Norway failed to qualify for the main tournament having finished third in Group G of the World Cup qualifiers. Despite his prepotent start to life at Manchester City, Haaland’s talent will be missed on the international front in Qatar.




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