The nations set to compete FIFA 2018 World Cup tournament next summer is set, and many Bundesliga stars will be competing to raise the World Cup trophy on July 15 in Moscow. Some of the best, though, will be watching from afar, their national teams unable to qualify for the world’s biggest sporting event.
30, Bayern Munich, Chile
It was inconceivable it would ever come to this for the two-time Copa America winners but
a turgid World Cup qualifying campaign that ultimately lost Chile’s coach Juan Antonio Pizzi his job.
The 3-0 loss to Gabriel Jesus FC, I mean Brazil in October, was like decapitating a corpse as
Chile finished sixth in the group.
It was not long ago that under Jorge Sampaoli, Chile looked the most assured and exciting
team in South America, winning back to back Copa America’s with the sparkle of Alexis
Sanchez up front and the brawn of Arturo Vidal in midfield.
However, this campaign they have been off the boil. Their World Cup qualifying missteps may be best summed up by the late summer collapse suffering a shock 3-0 home defeat to Paraguay followed by a 1-0 loss in Bolivia.
The resignation of manager Pizzi was long overdue given his subpar reign and robs us of
seeing one of the Bundesliga’s biggest stars strutting his stuff against the world’s best.
19, Borussia Dortmund, USA
The summer of 2018 is going to be a tough one for Christian Pulisic, watching from afar as
Russia hosts the elite of international football without one of it’s rising stars
But the American forward is not averse to emerging from tough summers. In 2016, former
boss Thomas Tuchel brought in a host of attacking talent including World Cup winner André Schürrle, Ousmane Dembele and the return of Mario Götze.
This was a real sucker punch to Pulisic who had been given a sniff of first team football the
previous campaign as was looking to make his mark in the Bundesliga.
Dortmund also signed youngster Alexander Isak and Emre Mor who were seen as direct
competition for the US teen. However, fast forward a year and it’s Pulisic’s glittering form
that has meant the club offloading the hit-and-miss Mor and the dissonant Dembele without
too much furor.
Albeit with Dembele nursing an injury but after the first four months of the season there are
critics asking if Barcelona bought the right Dortmund man.
The USA’s shock loss to Trinidad and Tobago last month sees the USMNT fail to qualify for the
World Cup for the first time since 1986, and will ensure it’s another long summer for the 20
year old but no-one would bet against Pulisic coming through this disappointment with flying colours.
25, Vfl Wolfsburg, Turkey
Born on the banks of the river Fulda in the northern Hesse town of Kassel, Malli was signed
by Borussia Mönchengladbachh at the U17 level but while still a teen he saw no way of breaking
into new manager Lucien Favre’s plans in 2011 and departed to Mainz.
This, crucially, was all still while representing Germany at youth level, progressing through
the age groups representing the team in 2015 U21 European Championships alongside the
likes of Emre Can, Joshua Kimmich and Marc-André ter Stegen.
However, having only making one appearance at the tournament in the Czech Republic he
had a decision to make when Turkey came calling.
The senior European Championships were fast approaching and the 23 year-old decided to
represent the country of his parents.
He hasn’t looked back since, swapping the river port of Mainz for the thriving industrial-auto
hub of Wolfsburg last summer
Nonetheless despite growing in stature domestically, he will be hoping in the next qualifying
campaign he can have more of a driving influence for the national side.
25, Bayern Munich, Austria
If it feels like we’ve heard of the precocious talent of David Alaba for many years, it’s probably because we have!
Alaba made his Bayern debut aged 17 in 2010 becoming the clubs youngest ever debutant.
After returning from a loan spell at Hoffenheim the following season the Austrian hasn’t
He is now internationally recognised as an elite full back if not the top left back
in World football with former Bayern manager Pep Guardiola full of praise;
With him we are a better team, he can play anywhere. He is outstanding. On a scale of 1-to-10, he has always been an eight or a nine, sometimes 10. Heis one of the most important players for Bayern Munich.
Alaba is equally comfortable playing in central midfield or as central defender in
a back three is Austria’s biggest star but can’t always replicate his club form for his country.
Naturally, trying to compare the talents surrounding him at star-studded Bayern Munich with those of a national team which hasn’t qualified for a World Cup since 1998, but has many quality players,
None the less, it will be yet another World Cup that will feature a vacant Alaba-shaped hole as the
six-time Bundesliga champion watches on once again.
33, Hertha Berlin, Bosnia and Herzegovina
It was a cruel end to a stellar career for the evergreen Vedad Ibišević as he bowed out of
international football following Bosnia and Herzegovina’s elimination in the World Cup qualifiers.
Not that it would have been much different if he had played for the nation where he attended high school and a year of univesity, the USA, this time round.
Ibišević grew up in the midst of the Bosnianwar in the small town of Vlasenica, then a
republic within Yugoslavia.
They eventually found their way to St. Louis, Missouri at the turn of the millennium passing
through Switzerland a year before, where Ibisevic’s life in football really picked up pace.
His talents were increasingly hard to ignore at this point and at 19 he was cherry picked by
PSG’s Bosnian manager Vahid Halilhodžić and moved to France.
The Bosnia-born forward’s first taste of football in Europe wasn’t an enjoyable one though as
he would only manage six appearances for the French side and was carted off first to
second division Dijon and then to Germany.
By this point he had played a handful of games for Bosnia’s U21’s, getting further and further
away from Bruce Arena’s USA plans.
The US had just come off the back of a Gold Cup win in 2005 and would go on to qualify for
the 2006 World Cup with the young vibrant trio of Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley and
Overlooked for much of his career but his longevity in German football is much to be
admired and even now the 33-year-old Hertha Berlin skipper still has a lot to offer, as his brace Sunday brought Hertha Berlin to victory.
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