By sportswriters Yao Youming
BEIJING, June 13 (Xinhua) -- The FIFA World Cup is a proving ground for football stars. But for a variety of reasons, there are many big names who can't add to their legacies at the sport's greatest spectacle. Here are the stars who will be absent from the upcoming tournament.
Italy failed to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1958, while the Netherlands miss a second tournament in a row, following their absence from Euro 2016. As a result, many key players popular worldwide have lost their chance to perform at the World Cup in Russia. Gianluigi Buffon, who has been in the Italian squad since the 1998 World Cup, encountered one of the biggest frustrations of his career in November 2017.
The goalkeeper made his 175th appearance for his country in the second leg of their playoff against Sweden, but the 2006 champions were unable to overturn a 1-0 deficit and are now missing out on the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.
Arjen Robben, 34, contributed two goals when the Netherlands faced Sweden in the last round of qualification. Although the 2010 World Cup runners-up finished their preliminaries with a victory, they only finished third in their group; not even making the playoffs.
The reigning Copa America title holder Chile missed out on World Cup qualification in the final round of the South American preliminaries, with stars Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez and their teammates not being able to make it to football's biggest stage.
Gareth Bale has won three UEFA Champions Leagues in a row, but the Welsh superstar could only watch on as his compatriots lost their all-or-nothing final group match against the Republic of Ireland. When talking about their helplessness when it comes to national or regional teams, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan may have something in common with Bale.
It's not for the first time that the World Cup finals will take place without the Chinese national team, although the newly-named head coach Marcello Lippi secured three wins and two draws for China in their last six qualification games. Zheng Zhi has brought Guangzhou Evergrande two Champions League titles and seven Chinese Super League trophies, but he has hardly made one World Cup finals appearance, and this year will be no different.
THE UNCHOSEN ONES
For many young football stars, they are both glad to see their teams enter the tournament and sad about failing to secure a place in their countries' World Cup squads.
Leroy Sane and his Manchester City teammate Aymeric Laporte (France) helped City win the 2017-2018 English Premier League trophy, but they both will not play for their countries during the World Cup. Sane scored 10 goals and had 15 assists in 32 English Premier league appearances. The 22-year-old talent didn't make the cut when German manager Joachim Loew reduced his squad to 23 players on June 4.
Mauro Icardi, 25, brought Serie A side Inter Milan back to the Champions League after they've been absent for six seasons, but his fantastic attacking abilities were denied by Argentinean head coach Jorge Sampaoli. French winger Kingsley Coman has played for many football giants like Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich but a slow recovery from an injury has scuppered his World Cup hopes.
Olympique Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet is not included in France's 23-man squad after leaving last season's Europa League final with a thigh injury. France coach Didier Deschamps said that Payet's injury has thrown his plans into disarray.
One week ahead of the World Cup's opening ceremony, Argentinean midfielder Manuel Lanzini ruptured a ligament in his knee during training. Meanwhile Argentina's archrivals Brazil will have to make do without marauding full-back Dani Alves, who picked up a knee injury during the Coupe de France final and will instead spend the summer recovering ahead of Paris Saint-Germain's 2018-19 campaign.
For the senior football fans, Francesc Fabregas, Karim Benzema and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's World Cup absences might take some of the shine off the tournament. Ibrahimovic said "it wouldn't be a World Cup" if he didn't play but the announcement of Sweden's 23-man squad dashed the faint hopes of fans expecting to see Ibrahimovic at Russia 2018.
For many, these absences will be a disappointing footnote to all the great action on the field, but we can be sure that the 2018 World Cup will no doubt crown new stars for tomorrow.