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A Starting XI of the Best Players Who Did Not Make It to the World Cup

18/07/2014 13:01 BST | Updated 17/09/2014 10:59 BST

And so it's over. The World Cup in Brazil was undoubtedly the best of its kind in recent memory, complete with fantastic football, shocking results and the obligatory Costa Rica style fairy story.

Despite the dazzling spectacle, you may be shocked to find out that a number of world-class players did not even make it to this summer's tournament.

Here is a starting XI made up out of the best players that did not play at Brazil 2014. They line up in an attacking 4-4-2 and may have even given eventual champions Germany a run for their money...

11. Goalkeeper: Petr Cech (Czech Republic)

Although Cech's place could come under threat from returning Thibaut Courtois next season, the Chelsea 'keeper's contribution over the last few seasons could be just enough to place him just ahead of his younger counterpart.

Despite his fantastic ability, the Czech Republic didn't make it to the World Cup after finishing third behind Italy and Denmark in qualifying.

10. Right-Back: Branislav Ivanovic (Serbia)

The first of three Serbian defenders on this list, Ivanovic has impressed hugely for Chelsea over the last couple of seasons. So much so that he has retained the right-back spot ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta, who himself has displaced Ashley Cole from first-team plans.

9. Left-Back: Ashley Cole (England)

England did actually make it to the World Cup finals, but one of Roy Hodgson's most controversial decisions was to leave out stalwart Ashley Cole, who has 107 caps for his country.

To make matters worse, his replacement, Leighton Baines, was less than impressive as England were knocked out of the tournament after just two games.

8. Centre-Back: Nemanja Vidic (Serbia)

Although his powers may be slightly on the wane after a number of injuries and at the age of 32, Nemanja Vidic is still recognised as one of the world's finest defenders and will try to prove this once again after a move to Inter Milan.

Vidic was of course never in the running for the World Cup, having retired from international duty in 2011.

7. Centre-Back: Neven Subotic (Serbia)

The last of the Serbians on this list, it is actually getting rather difficult to discern how the Eastern-Europeans didn't make it to the tournament.

Could it be because their front-line consists of a choice from Dragan Mrdja, Filip Djordjevic and Aleksandar Mitrovic? Yes, in fact that's probably it.

6. Centre-Midfield: Ilkay Gundogan (Germany)

It is hard to imagine that Germany could have been stronger on their way to winning the World Cup, but had Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan been available for selection then this would have almost certainly been the case.

The midfielder was ruled out of the tournament through injury, though would have almost certainly played a part had he been fit.

5. Centre-Midfield: Marek Hamsik (Slovakia)

Hamsik has become a footballing superstar during his time at Napoli, playing in the Champions League and scoring 68 goals in 243 appearances for the Italian side.

Had the midfielder been at the World Cup, he could have rivalled Argentina's Rodrigo Palacio for 'worst hairstyle'. As it happens, however, he was left at home after Slovakia finished behind Bosnia and Greece in qualifying Group G.

4. Right-Wing: Gareth Bale (Wales)

There were questions raised when Real Madrid broke the world-record transfer fee to take Gareth Bale to Spain, yet he has managed to prove all of his doubters wrong since moving to the Spanish capital.

Bale scored 15 goals in 27 league appearances for Real last season, despite being injured at the start of the campaign and playing in a supporting role to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Wales may have a better chance at Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018 if Aaron Ramsey and Bale are firing on all cylinders.

3. Left-Wing: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenia)

Like most players in this list, Mkhitaryan is the star-man in his national side, but was not enough to drag his support cast to the World Cup finals.

The Armenian sealed a big-club move to Dortmund last summer, where he has impressed after previously scoring 38 goals in 72 appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk from a midfield position.

2. Striker: Robert Lewandowski (Poland)

Robert Lewandowski has burst onto the scene in recent years in a Dortmund shirt and his performances earned him a move to Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski is perhaps most famous for his single-handed demolition of Real Madrid in the 2012/13 Champions League semi-final.

His record for Poland isn't quite up to the same standard though, reading 19 goals in 61 appearances.

1. Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)

Ibrahimovic is one of the most lethal players in world football and even at the age of 32 he can still produce the goods.

His record for current club PSG reads 56 goals in 67 league appearances. Even the English media were forced to accept his brilliance when he scored four goals against England in a friendly in 2012.

Nevertheless, he was outdone by Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal during qualifying as the Real Madrid man scored a hat-trick to send his side through - Ibrahimovic only scored two.

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