European stars who could miss out on World Cup through the play-offs

miss world cup star play-off

AWAY from the international friendlies coming up, there are a few games going ahead this week with huge repercussions for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Twelve teams are left fighting it out to win the last six spots at next summer’s showpiece event and it guarantees some big names will miss out.

 Gigi Buffon was named the best keeper in the world recently.. but he could miss out on the World Cup

AFP: Gigi Buffon was named the best keeper in the world recently.. but he could miss out on the World Cup

 

Sweden take on Italy and Croatia face Greece among others, which means in Europe alone, some stars from the domestic game will have to watch the World Cup on TV next summer.

Football Whispers have picked out an XI made up for players would could miss out if their countries fail to qualify via the playoffs…

Goalkeeper: Gigi Buffon (Italy)

The Italian goalkeeper is without doubt one of the greatest to ever play the game.

This is going to be his last season for Juventus and playing in the summer for the Azzurri would be the perfect goodbye to what has been an incredible career.

 Buffon has racked up a mega 173 caps for the Azzurri

GETTY IMAGES: Buffon has racked up a mega 173 caps for the Azzurri

Centre-back: Dejan Lovren (Croatia)

Liverpool fans will tell you at any given opportunity, the Croatian defender is the main cause of most of their defensive issues.

Yet, for his country, the 28-year-old is still very key and a leader at the back.

Centre-back: Lonardo Bonucci (Italy)

The Juventus hero had been linked with a move to Manchester City and Chelsea over the summer, but shocked many with his move to AC Milan.

They may be struggling domestically, but the Italian defender is still one of Europe’s best passers from deep and has enjoyed an outstanding relationship with Buffon just behind him.

 Leo Bonucci is another Italian who may not grace Russia 2018

EPA: Leo Bonucci is another Italian who may not grace Russia 2018

Centre-back: Kostas Manolas (Greece)

Often an Arsenal and Chelsea transfer target, the Greek defender has impressed over the last few seasons, but remains with Roma in Serie A.

Suspended for the first leg against Croatian, he will hope he can have a positive impact when they meet again in Piraeus.

Right wing-back: Stephan Lichtsteiner (Switzerland)

Captain of Switzerland, the ageing full-back has a never-give-up attitude that has helped him regain his place at Juventus time after time.

After Dani Alves and Juan Cuadrado arrived, his minutes were limited and he was left off their Champions League squad, but the 33-year-old battled on and is again Max Allegri’s starter.

 Kostas Manolas, left, has been on the radar of Premier League giants

AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS: Kostas Manolas, left, has been on the radar of Premier League giants
 Swiss skipper Stephan Lichtsteiner may not make it to the tournament

GETTY – CONTRIBUTOR: Swiss skipper Stephan Lichtsteiner may not make it to the tournament

Centre-midfield: Luka Modric (Croatia)

A star at Spurs, it wasn’t until his move to Real Madrid where the little Croatian really began to blossom.

Playing under Zinedine Zidane he has developed into one of the best players in the world.

His country needs him and the World Cup needs him in Russia.

Centre-midfield: Marco Verratti (Italy)

One of the jewels in Paris Saint-Germain’s crown.

The tenacious midfielder has never quite found the same high level for Italy, but given the chance to star at Russia 2018, it could be his time to shine.

 Midfield maestro Luka Modric is struggling to qualify with Croatia

GETTY IMAGES: Midfield maestro Luka Modric is struggling to qualify with Croatia
 Marco Verratti is a vital cog in the Italian midfield engine

GETTY IMAGES: Marco Verratti is a vital cog in the Italian midfield engine

Left wing-back: Ricardo Rodriguez (Switzerland)

The former Wolfsburg defender made a name for himself in Germany with rampaging runs down the flank.

A former Arsenal transfer target, he was signed by AC Milan in the summer.

The Swiss full-back has bags of energy and a superb left-foot.

Attacking midfield: Christian Eriksen (Denmark)

Sensational at Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino, the little Danish wizard could be one of Russia 2018’s stars if he can lead his country past the Republic of Ireland.

Premier League fans already know what he is capable of, it would be such a waste if he couldn’t show the rest of the world.

 Ricardo Rodriguez is a threat down Switzerland's left flank

GETTY IMAGES – GETTY: Ricardo Rodriguez is a threat down Switzerland’s left flank
 Spurs fans know the talents Christian Eriksen brings to the table

GETTY: Spurs fans know the talents Christian Eriksen brings to the table

Attacking midfield: Lorenzo Insigne (Italy)

Under Maurizio Sarri, the diminutive forward has become one of the most dynamic players in Serie A.

Quick as a flash, he can help Napoli win games and has all the quality needed to become Italy’s talisman this summer.

Centre-Forward: Andrea Belotti (Italy)

Long linked with moves to Chelsea and Manchester United, the Torino hit-man continues to find the net for club and country.

After struggling up front, the 23-year-old is the goalscorer Italy have been waiting for.

 Lorenzo Insigne has been in incredible form for Napoli this season

REX FEATURES: Lorenzo Insigne has been in incredible form for Napoli this season
 Insigne helps provide firepwer alongside Andrea Belotti for Italy

GETTY IMAGES: Insigne helps provide firepwer alongside Andrea Belotti for Italy

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