While Ronaldo, Messi and Lewandowski make the World Cup, Qatar will be absent the top talents Salah and Haaland

PORTO, Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo is heading to Qatar, but not Mohamed Salah and so is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose dream is to become the first starter to close the 16-year gap between World Cup appearances melted into smoke. , the action of the rescue was fruitless for Sweden in Poland.

Each World Cup is played with at least one top player or one major country failing to qualify, but when the Europe and Africa region is over (the conflict in Ukraine means a spot remains). must be designated within UEFA’s region), the big names absent are starting to add up.

Liverpool striker Salah, this year’s potential Ballon d’Or winner, experienced his second penalty shootout in less than two months as Egypt missed qualifying by losing to Senegal – a repeat of the defeat. their Africa Cup of Nations final against the same team.

And Ibrahimovic, who will be 41 when Qatar 2022 begins, may forget about returning to the World Cup stage for the first – and possibly last, time, but who knows with Zlatan? – since failing to score in Germany in 2006 after his return from international tournament has been unsuccessful. Robert Lewandowski’s second-half penalty in Chorzow put Poland on course to win 2-0 and qualify for Qatar, ensuring that the Bayern Munich forward – for many observers, is a centre-back the best in the game – will be at football. the biggest party when the World Cup is held in November and December.

Salah and Ibrahimovic will join Norway’s Erling Haaland, who scored twice in a 9-0 win over Armenia on Tuesday, as World Cup absentees. Two of football’s biggest stars right now and a player who has been playing at the top for over a decade, neither of them will be in Qatar. And we haven’t even mentioned Italy, which became the first European champion since Greece (which won in 2004) to fail to qualify for the World Cup.

FIFA can be grateful that at least Ronaldo and his star-studded Portugal team will be in Qatar. Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Lewandowski will all bring their fame and class to the tournament, but none of them can be considered the next generation, or even the players at their peak. surname. All three are superstars of the modern game, but Qatar will almost certainly be their last World Cup.

The new wave could be led by Haaland should Norway qualify, but there are still enough stars heading to Qatar who can ensure that the spotlight doesn’t automatically fall on the old keeper. including Ronaldo, Messi and Lewandowski.

Sadio Mane’s penalty against Egypt sealed qualifying for Senegal, so the Liverpool forward will have a chance to do what Salah can’t by leading his country at the World Cup and having a chance to win. the possibility of helping an African country reach the semi-finals for the first time.

Kylian Mbappe, who confirmed his superstar status with his performance in the 2018 World Cup final for France against Croatia, will see Qatar as an opportunity to knock Ronaldo and Messi off the top of the elite rankings. of football, while Harry Kane, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling will also see this World Cup as an opportunity for them to claim their place in global greatness.

Germany’s Kai Havertz, France’s Christopher Nkunku and Spain’s Pedri are others who could become World Cup stars in Qatar.

But while all eyes will be on Ronaldo as Portugal play in Qatar, their performance in the play-off wins against Turkey and North Macedonia has highlighted the quality of Fernando Santos’ squad. Portugal is no longer a team that relies solely on Ronaldo.

Ronaldo’s Manchester United team-mate Bruno Fernandes scored twice to seal a win in Porto over North Macedonians, who knocked Italy out in the play-off semi-finals, and the World Cup is sure to be a better tournament. for his presence and that of Bernardo Silva, Diogo Jota and Porto winger Otavio.

Portugal can also defend and, while they have a deep reserve up front, there is no shortage of quality in the back line, where 39-year-old Pepe remains organized and defends brilliantly. He and Danilo were excellent against North Macedonia.

But although Portugal would be one of the top nations in Qatar, the party would have been even bigger if Italy, Salah, Haaland and Ibrahimovic had also made it to the World Cup.

In their absence, others will make headlines, and one of them could be Ronaldo. Qatar 2022 wouldn’t be the same without him.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/fifa-world-cup-qualifying-uefa/story/4627979/while-ronaldomessi-and-lewandowski-make-world-cupqatar-will-miss-peak-talents-salah-and-haaland While Ronaldo, Messi and Lewandowski make the World Cup, Qatar will be absent the top talents Salah and Haaland

Luke Plunkett

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