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Best XI not going to 2018 World Cup

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The majority of the world's best players will be present at the 2018 World Cup in Russia this summer, but there will also be some sitting at home watching on the television.

Only 32 teams can make it to the showpiece event which kicks off on 14 June when the hosts take on Saudi Arabia, meaning inevitably some of the biggest names in the sport won't be present.

With the likes of Italy, Netherlands and Chile all absent, we put together a starting XI and substitutes bench of the best players who won't be at the World Cup.

Goalkeeper - Jan Oblak (Slovenia)

 The Atletico Madrid stopper has been in fantastic form this season, conceding only 18 goals in La Liga this season - the lowest of any team in the league.

The 25-year-old is one of the very best goalkeepers in the world, and is often mentioned in the same breath as David de Gea and Manuel Neuer in terms of quality.

He is already a man in demand, with reports suggesting Paris St Germain could be interested in acquiring his services, and undoubtedly other big clubs will also come calling.

Slovenia failed to reach the World Cup after finishing fourth in Group F, which was won by England.

Jan Oblak Jan Oblak

Right Back - Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)

Manchester United's captain won't be present in Russia after Ecuador finished eighth in the South American standings.

Valencia has been in superb form this season for United, starting the majority of games and leading his side to the FA Cup final, where they will take on Chelsea.

The Red Devils will be in the Champions League again next season, and Valenica is a major reason behind that, solidifying the right hand side of defence.

The 32-year-old is in the form of his life, and it is a shame his talents won't be showcased on the biggest stage of all this summer.

Antonio Valencia Antonio Valencia

Centre Back - Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands)

Van Dijk became the most expensive defender ever when Liverpool paid Southampton a fee of £75 million for the Dutchman.

He has already shown that could be a decent deal for the Anfield club, having played a major part in their Champions League run and helping solve the defensive problems Jurgen Klopp had at the start of the season.

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The 26-year-old is also a aerial threat from corners, and has shown in the past he can score from set pieces and from range also.

Netherlands have endured a torrid time of it in major tournaments of late, failing to qualify for the 2016 European Championships and now the 2018 World Cup.

Virgil van Dijk Virgil van Dijk

Centre Back - Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)

At 33, Chiellini remains one of the very best defenders in world football

Juventus have been renowned for their impenetrable defence for years, and much of that has been done to mainstay Chiellini, and the partnerships he has developed with the likes of Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli.

He announced his international retirement following the heartbreaking play-off defeat to Sweden, so won't have another chance to represent his country at a major tournament.

It will be a changing of the guard for the Italian national side, with it being no easy task to find replacements for the legendary duo of Chiellini and Gianluigi Buffon.

Giorgio Chiellini Giorgio Chiellini

Left Back - David Alaba (Austria)

The Bayern Munich full-back has been regarded as one of the best left-backs in world football for quite some time along with the likes of Marcelo and Jordi Alba.

He endured a difficult qualification campaign with Austria, who finished in fourth behind group winners Serbia and Republic of Ireland, who eventually lost out to Denmark in the play-offs.

Alaba has won seven Bundesliga titles and the 2012/13 Champions League with Bayern, but his only taste of international football at the highest level is Euro 2016.

It will be a shame that the six time Austrian Footballer of the Year won't be able to test himself against some of the greats in the summer.

David Alaba David Alaba

Defensive Midfield - Naby Keita (Guinea)

Keita is on his way to Liverpool from RB Leipzig this summer. and he will be a great signing for the Anfield side.

The 23-year-old will provide much-needed defensive cover for Liverpool's back four, playing alongside the likes of Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and James Milner.

Keita has been a big reason behind Leipzig's success in recent years, and could prove to be the missing link to Liverpool mounting a challenge on the Premier League ttile.

Guinea have never made it to a World Cup, and that will not change in 2018 after they finished fourth in Group A of African qualification, which was topped by Tunisia.

Naby Keita Naby Keita

Defensive Midfield - Arturo Vidal (Chile)

With Keita and Vidal guarding our defence, it will be hard for most sides to score against us!

Vidal made his name with Juventus, winning four Serie A titles and one Coppa Italia, and wads named their Player of the Year in 2013.

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He is one of the most complete midfielders in the world. possessing the ability to mix his hard tackling with supporting attackers at club and national level.

The 30-year-old has continued to excel with Bayern Munich since joining in 2015, helping them to three Bundesliga titles.

Arturo Vidal Arturo Vidal

Attacking Midfielder - Gareth Bale (Wales)

Bale has struggled with injury and form in recent time with Real Madrid, but he is still a world class player.

He signed for Madrid for a then world record fee of £86.3 million from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, and has scored over 60 league goals.

The Welshman was part of the La Liga winning side in 2016/17 and has won three Champions League titles in his time at the Santiago Bernabeu to date.

With limited starting time this season and constant injury problems setting him back, rumours are circling that he will leave in the summer, with Bayern Munich and Manchester United both interested.

Gareth Bale Gareth Bale

Attacking Midfielder - Alexis Sanchez (Chile)

Sanchez hasn't found his sparkling best form since joining Manchester United from Arsenal in January, but his class is undeniable.

The Chilean has pace to burn and is capable of scoring all type of goals, while still maintaining an incredible work-rate and tracking back to help defend.

The 29-year-old has helped Chile to Copa America success in both 2015 and 2016, and has scored 39 goals at international level.

Chile missed out on a play-off place on goal difference to Peru, who went on to defeat New Zealand for a place in the World Cup.

Alexis Sanchez Alexis Sanchez

Striker - Edin Dzeko (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Since leaving Manchester City in 2016, Dzeko has proven how much of a goal threat he is during his time in Rome.

He has spent three seasons in Italy, including one on loan in 2015/16, and has scored over 50 goals in just over 100 league appearances, averaging at one every other game.

The 32-year-old has been the main man for his national side for quite some time, scoring 52 goals in 91 appearances, and is their all-time top goalscorer.

Bosnia reached the group stage of the World Cup in 2014, but after finishing third to Belgium and Greece in Group H, will not be in Russia.

Edin Dzeko Edin Dzeko

Striker - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

Gabon have never been to a World Cup, but they have one of the very best strikers in the world in their squad.

Aubameyang joined Arsenal in January after scoring 141 goals in 213 appearances in all competitions for Borussia Dortmund, and was named Bundesliga Player of the Year for the 2015/16 season.

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The Gabonese forward also has 23 goals in 56 international appearances, and his record proves he is a clinical striker capable of taking most chances.

It is unlikely he will get to showcase his skills at a World Cup in his career, but he should still score plenty of goals at club level for years to come.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Substitute Bench

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)

Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)

Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

Marik Hamsik (Slovakia)

Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia)

Arjen Robben (Netherlands)

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenia)

Our Best XI formation and players Our Best XI formation and players

Words: Johnny Morton

Images: PA

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