Now that we know which 32 countries are going to next summer’s World Cup tournament, let’s compile a list of the best players who definitely won’t be there. Since USA crashed out, it has been joined by Chile and Italy on the sidelines. The latter will come as a big shock to casual fans, but those of us who’ve been following the situation over there have seen this coming. Just like when I made this list four years ago, the players here are only from already-eliminated countries, because it’s too early predict who will miss the tourney due to injury or being left off their national team.
GK — Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Even the Italy-hating corners of the soccer world are sad about him missing out. One of the all-time great goalkeepers is not only capable of adapting to any defensive style his team might employ, he’s still playing at a high level at age 40 and is by all accounts a consummate sportsman and a good guy. The world won’t get to say goodbye to him at the World Cup, but at least he won the tournament in 2006.