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World Cup A-Z: Zlatan

11 June 2014

By Rhys Griffiths

We bring our World Cup A-Z to its conclusion with a look at those star names who - like Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic - will not be appearing at this summer's tournament in Brazil.

The 32-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward was on target when his nation faced Portugal in a play-off for World Cup qualification, but three goals from Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo topped Ibra's brace and condemned him to a summer as a spectator. The result led Zlatan to joke: "One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch."

But Ibrahimovic is far from the only big name to be missing out on the tournament because his team failed to qualify. Ronaldo's Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale - the most expensive British footballer of all time - may have shone in the Champions League this season, but the continued failure of the Welsh national side to qualify for the World Cup means he will miss out. Others in the same boat include Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski and Chelsea's Petr Cech.

Injury has also robbed Brazil 2014 of some of the biggest names in the game. Italy have lost their captain Riccardo Montolivo to a broken leg, French forward Franck Ribery will miss the tournament thanks to a back injury, and Victor Valdes will not be available to back up Iker Casillas in goal for Spain.

But it is probably Colombia who will feel the greatest sense of loss after their 28-year-old talisman Radamel Falcao lost his race to be fit for the finals after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January while playing for Monaco. The loss of Falcao has dented hopes that Colombia could be a dark horse in Brazil and was described by coach Jose Pekerman as the "saddest day" of his time as national boss.

Then there are those who simply didn't make the cut. French boss Didier Deschamps has left Manchester City's Samir Nasri out of his World Cup squad in a bid to overcome the disharmony that has plagued France at past competitions, while Carlos Tevez was left out of the Argentina party despite good form in front of goal for Juventus this season.

Click here to see the other letters in our World Cup A-Z

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