Qatar World Cup missing best XI

Allan Ssekamatte

What you need to know:

  • Mo Salah headlines the lot of major stars who will miss Qatar.

A full compliment of 32 teams that will battle for World Cup glory in Qatar next November was completed on Wednesday. As billions around the world prepare to bask in the global soccer showpiece, spare a thought for individual stars whose teams failed to beat the qualification hurdle. 

Naturally, European champions Italy dominate a Best XI of absentees but there are several players that would walk into the starting line ups of a majority of teams. 

Chief among them is new Manchester City recruit Erling Braut Haaland. The Norway international is a goal plunderer from the topmost drawer, whose 20 goals in 21 internationals and 92 club goals warrant a place in Qatar. Sadly, Norway did not qualify for the World Cup. Haaland’s absence make one ponder of an idea of a wildcard. 

Since Fifa is planning to expand the USA 2026 event to 48 teams, why not reserve one place for a ‘wild card’ team to be voted for by fans. For the sake of seeing Haaland, Norway would vie with Italy if such a vote had been held for Qatar 2022.

Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Colombia’s Luis Diaz and Italy goalkeeper Gianluca Donnarruma are a close second on the list of missing stars. The Paris Saint Germain custodian was voted Euro 2020 player of the tournament exactly one year ago. 

It would have been fun to watch him pit his shot stopping prowess against the likes of Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois, Germany’s Manuel Neuer, and Spain’s David de Gea for the unofficial title of best keeper in the universe. 

Salah-Diaz firepower

Liverpool forward Salah and live wire Diaz are your typical all-action heroes. Salah is the reigning Premier League top scorer and  Professional Footballers Association (PFA) player of the year. That says it all. Besides, Diaz’s wing wizardry would illuminate any event. The Colombian is a  constant menace whose hyperactive style will be sorely missed.

Just behind the front three of Diaz, Haaland and Salah is a triumvirate of Algerian Riyad Mahrez, Nicolo Barella and Jorginho. Azzurri and Chelsea midfield metronome Jorginho remains the best conductor of proceedings from deep lying positions whereas Inter Milan’s Barella provides the industry and occasional goal. 

Desert Fenec Mahrez is the man to provide the creative spark plus goal threat. Lest we forget, the Algerian wing maestro was Manchester City’s top scorer last season. 

The front six have beaten off competition from Colombians Duvan Zapata, Luis Muriel and 2014 World Cup star James Rodriguez, as well as Guinean Naby Keita.

Los Angeles-bound Giorghio Chellini would have been quite a sight in Doha but have resisted a temptation to p air him with longtime Juventus mate Leonardo Bonucci and will instead have Gerard Pique, with Austria captain David Alaba moved to left back. 

Pique declared himself unavailable but remains a formidable leader whereas Bonucci is, to use Jose Mourinho’s coinage, a ‘professor of defence’. Alaba is a reigning La Liga and European champion. The right back slot goes to Azzurri Alessandro Florenzi. 

Missing XI
1.Gianluca Donnarruma
2.Alessandro Florenzi
3.David Alaba, 4.Leonardo Bonucci
5.Gerard Pique
6.Jorginho
7.Riyad Mahrez
8.Nicolo Barella
9.Erling Braut Haaland
10.Mohamed Salah
 11.Luis Diaz

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