Five stars who won't be playing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup
They are some of the biggest names in football but they won't be playing at the World Cup next year. Here is a look at five players whose absence will make the tournament in Brazil a poorer spectacle.
Petr Cech: With over 100 international caps, the Chelsea player has long been established as one of the top goalkeepers in the world and has proved a veritable rock for his country. His reliability, strength coming out on corners and set pieces, and his stunning reflexes mean that when you score against him, you have really earned it. Strikers will be happier that he's not around in Brazil.
Christian Eriksen: Major tournaments usually reveal a rising star: The 20-year-old Enzo Scifo for Belgium and Michael Laudrup for Denmark in 1986. Laudrup was 21 when he shone in Mexico, the same age as Christian Eriksen is now. His silky skill and quick-thinking brain has drawn comparisons to Laudrup, and Eriksen is seen as the future of Danish football.
Gareth Bale: The Wales winger will be hoping he doesn't follow in the footsteps of his illustrious countryman Ryan Giggs - who won everything with Manchester United but never played in a World Cup. Last season, he scored 21 league goals for Spurs, and his combination of power, searing pace, and an incredibly hard shot make him a nightmare to defend against. Defenders in Brazil will be thankful that they won't have to deal with him.
Robert Lewandowski: The Borussia Dortmund striker burst onto the scene in last season's Champions League when he outshone Cristiano Ronaldo to score four goals against Real Madrid in the semifinals. The 25-year-old Pole has 63 goals in 110 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund and is widely recognized as one of the best forwards in Europe. Unfortunately, Poland had such a tough qualifying group that they ended up finishing fourth behind England, Ukraine and Montenegro.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic : There is no point watching the World Cup because Ibrahimovic won't be playing in it - at least that's what he says. While the striker has always been his own biggest fan, he does have a point that the tournament will not be as exciting without him. The 32-year-old is in the best form of his career and has shown his full repertoire of spectacular goals: Martial arts-style volleys, overhead kicks from 30 meters out, dipping shots from all angles.