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Dec 3, 2013

Best players not in 2014 World Cup

The 2014 World Cup will be missing Bale, Ramsey and Ibrahimovic.
The 2014 World Cup will be missing Bale, Ramsey and Ibrahimovic.  

The 2014 World Cup draw is on Friday (11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2), and soon we will know where each country fits into the world’s biggest tournament. This year’s field looks more even across the board compared to the 2010 World Cup, and there certainly will be individuals who will surprise and become household names by the time the tournament is over.

However, there are also star players who will be missing. Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for one, voiced his displeasure about not being able to take part in the tournament, after Cristiano Ronaldo sealed Portugal's World Cup place with a memorable display in a thrilling World Cup qualifying playoff game against the Swedes. Meanwhile, other historically formidable football countries such as Denmark, Serbia and Senegal also will be absent, meaning some of the best players based in Europe will miss out on the chance to represent their country on the world’s biggest stage.

In that vein, below are the 10 best players who will not be showcasing their talents in Brazil next summer. This list is based on players’ careers, but with an emphasis on player performance for this season. So while a powerful Swedish striker such as Ibrahimovic does fit the bill due to his impressive form at Paris Saint-Germain, another player such as Napoli’s Marek Hamsik (Slovakia) falls just outside top 10 after recording just three shots on target in his past six games, and turning the ball over at a higher rate than he did in his first six appearances this season.

Note: Each player’s club team is in parentheses.

1. F Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) -- Wales

Even though Wales has qualified for only one World Cup, in 1958, recent times are...