We begin our countdown to the World Cup with a look at the best XI players to be absent from Brazil because of injury. Some huge names on the list.
GK: Víctor Valdés (Spain) – The Barcelona goalkeeper suffered a knee inury against Celta Vigo in March and couldn’t travel with the Spain squad to Brazil. Although Iker Casillas is Spain’s undisputed No1 goalkeeper, Valdés would have been an excellent backup.
RB: Gregory van der Wiel (Netherlands) – The 26-year-old defender revealed that he had been taking painkillers for tendinitis in the knee all season, but he was successful with PSG. Nevertheless, he told Louis van Gaal to withdraw him from Netherland’s World Cup squad to avoid chronic injury in the future.
CB: Holger Badstuber (Germany) – Bayern Muncih’s great talent has not played a single minute in 18 months but has returned to training and should be available when next season starts. The 25-year-old central defender has suffered anterior cruciate ligament rupture earlier.
LB: Bryan Oviedo (Costa Rica) – Everton’s attacking full-back suffered a horrific double leg break in January in the FA Cup and started training in the gym a few weeks ago, but the World Cup came a bit too early for him. He did impressive performances when he was replacing the injured Leighton Baines and Costa Rica will surely miss him on the World Cup.
DM: Kevin Strootman (Netherlands) – AS Roma’s midfielder played a key role in Louis van Gaal’s team in the qualifying campaign. Strootman suffered serious ACL injury in March that made it impossible to participate in Brazil.
CM: Riccardo Montolivo (Italy) – Montolivo broke his leg in the friendly against the Republic of Ireland. His absence is a big blow for Italy and according to Cesare Prandelli everyone is devastated by the news.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan (Germany) – Borussia Dortmund’s midfielder missed nearly the entire season because of back injury but the German club extended contract with him in April. His absence can be very costly as Lars Bender also ruled out and Bastian Schweinsteiger is still a doubt.
RM: Theo Walcott (England) – He was one of the brightest talents of England a few years ago but this season wasn’t the best for him. He suffered a serious knee injury in January against Tottenham and required surgeries.
LM: Rafael van der Vaart (Netherlands) – He has nearly gone down to Bundesliga 2. with Hamburg but the team won the relegation playoff. He didn’t have his best season either but had played a key role in the Netherlands squad before he suffered injury in training.
FW: Radamel Falcao (Colombia) – The biggest star to miss the World Cup because of injury is Radamel Falcao. The Monaco forward and Colombia’s captain damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in January and started training again a few days ago but the World Cup is still a bit early for him.
FW: Cristian Benteke (Belgium) – Played a vital role in Aston Villa squad during the last two seasons, Benteke started seven of Belgium’s ten matches in the qualyfing campaign. The powerful striker’s absence is a big blow for Belgium even though they have Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku.