World-class combined XI that failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup
It's not often that the usual suspects fail to qualify for a FIFA World Cup. And yet, here we are. So many top teams who were either regulars at the World Cup or were at their peak just a year or so ago will not be booking their flights to Russia in 2018.
As a result, the world will be deprived of the opportunity of watching legends of the game in action next summer. Some are deeply frustrated after failing to qualify. Others are heartbroken and have even announced their retirement from international football.
Here is a combined XI of world class players who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
There wasn't a dry eye in Italy as they watched their team crash out in the playoff fixture against Sweden and Gianluigi Buffon bore the brunt of having to face the cameras just minutes after a humiliating exit.
The veteran goalkeeper, who had won with the Azzurri in 2006, was hoping to finish his career with one final appearance at the World Cup. Instead, he will be left to rue his missed opportunity to retire on the grandest stage of them all.
"I'm not sorry for myself but all of Italian football. This was my last game for Italy. I'm sorry. We are sorry!” - Buffon
Italy have been dire in the World Cup qualifiers, with Gian Piero Ventura culpable for failing to qualify with one of the most talented squads in the world.
As for il capitano, the journey ends after 175 caps for the national team over a career that spanned two decades.
Honourable mention: Tim Howard (USA)