The much-awaited FIFA World Cup is just days away, and teams that qualified for the showdown have been announcing their provisional squads ahead of the June 4 deadline to submit an official list.
With domestic and continental leagues either done or almost finished, the 32 teams are expected to start training ahead of the tournament that will be held in Russia from June 14.
Ahead of that however, the past week has had football lovers talking about the names included in the provisional squads, and even more, those left out of the sheets.
Players that ply their trade in top clubs in various countries especially in Europe, have shockingly missed out on squads.
Here are some of the top names that might watch their fellow countrymen do battle from the comfort of their homes;
Spain’s manager Julen Lopetegui announced his squad for Russian duty on Sunday, but made shocking omissions that have got the world talking.
While long-serving servant Andres Iniesta was included in the squad, Lopetegui deemed it right to leave some stars home. These include Alvaro Morata (Chelsea), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Hector Bellerin (Arsenal), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Pedro Rodríguez (Chelsea) and Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid).
La Roja are pooled alongside, Portugal, Morocco and Iran in Group B, and will start their campaign on 15th
Going into the 2018 World Cup, the one-time World Cup winners boast of a huge pool pf talent, a fact many analysts predicted would give coach Didier Deschamps a selection headache.
True to that, Deschamps provisional squad got a lot of tongues wagging. While many are of the opinion that the team is well capable of bringing glory back to Paris, some think there are a few names that ought to have given space for others left out.
Among those left out of the team include, Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal), Kevin Gameiro (Atletico Madrid), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (PSG) and Wissam Ben Yedder (Sevilla).
Also left out is Real Madrid’s striker Karim Benzema, who despite a thorough campaign to get into the team, was not selected. The 30-year-old has been an absentee for Les Bleus since 2015 when he was placed under formal investigation over an alleged bid to blackmail fellow footballer Mathieu Valbuena.
The South Americans rallied late on during the qualification period to ensure their spot in Russia, thanks to star man Lionel Messi who had earlier retired from international football following a Copa America final loss to Chile in 2016.
La Albiceleste’s coach Jorge Sampaoli must have had a tough time choosing his strikers, but in the end decided to leave out Mauro Icardi.
Icardi, who plays for Italian giants Inter Milan, finished the season as joint Serie A top scorer after finding the net 29 times.
The 25-year-old lost to Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus) and Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).
Germany goes into the Russian showdown hoping to defend their title and become joint highest World Cup winners with Brazil. The Germans have won the competition four times, one less than the South Americans.
Despite coach Joachim Löw picking a team that looks well capable of doing the job, a lot of stars have missed out.
Some of those that were left out include Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Sandro Wagner (Bayern Munich), Emre Can (Liverpool) and Andre Schurrle (Borussia Dortmund).
The Three Lions are in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama.
English football fans hope the team under coach Gareth Southgate’s guidance can bring home a major title.
England has only won the World Cup once, and that came back in 1966. The side has never won any UEFA European Championship, their best finish being a third place.
Going into next month’s tournament, Southgate selected a strong squad, but still omitted some star names from his 23-man list.
Those left out include Joe Hart (Manchester City), Jack Wilshire (Arsenal) and Adam Lallana (Liverpool).
Other starts from other countries to have been left out include Luis Nani (Portugal, Valencia), Andre Gomes (Portugal, Barcelona), Alex Sandro (Brazil, Juventus), Radja Nainggolan (Belgium, Roma), among many others.