Sweden Few players have the presence of Ibrahimovic. But fewer still have the aura of Cristiano Ronaldo. With Sweden and Portugal facing off in the play-offs for the last spot in Brazil, Ronaldo’s hat trick marginally outdid Ibrahimovic’s two goals, leaving him out.
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Wales He may be the most sought-after footballer, having lived up to his “most expensive player in the world” hype by scoring the winning goals of the Copa del Rey and the Champions League for Real Madrid. But this time, Welshman Bale would be a mere spectator to the grandest footballing spectacle.
France Nasri’s France have made it to the final-32 in Brazil. But Manchester City’s experienced midfielder hasn’t found a place in his country’s squad. In 2010, France coach Raymond Domenech “overlooked” the rising talent when choosing his squad for South Africa. This time around, Didier Deschamps left him out for being a “trouble-maker”.
Argentina Often criticised for not stepping it up, the 30-year-old is guilty as charged. In 62 appearances for La Albiceleste, Tevez has scored just 13 times, only three in two World Cups. But form was on the striker’s side as he led Juventus to the Series A title with 19 goals. Yet, coach Alejandro Sabella turned a blind eye.
Poland The current face of the Bundesliga after the Pole singlehandedly dragged Borussia Dortmund to the Champions League final in 2013, Lewandowski is a man every team wants a piece of. But then Poland went through a hapless run during the qualifiers. So, the flavour of Euro 2012 (he scored the opening goal for hosts Poland to kickstart the championships in great style) will add no spice to World Cup 2014.