With Peru’s 2-0 win over New Zealand on Wednesday night, the field for the 2018 World Cup is set.
Thirty-two countries from five continents will compete from June 14 to July 15 for the right to be crowned the world’s best.
Except this time around there will be some big countries, and even bigger names, missing from the sport’s biggest stage.
Four-time World Cup winners Italy, back-to-back Copa America champions Chile, Gold Cup holders United States, and Gareth Bale-led Euro 2016 darlings Wales are among the surprise countries eliminated from contention before the tournament even starts.
With those team’s omissions comes the loss of plenty of star power and skill on the pitch. So much skill, in fact, that a best-of-the-rest Starting XI — World Cup of Hockey style — is a squad that we could see making a deep run in next summer’s tournament.
Here’s what that team would look like on the pitch, set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
(Click on player headshot for more details)
And, of course, no squad is complete without some depth on the bench. Here’a list of seven players who would make up our list of super-subs.
Jan Oblak, Goalkeeper (SLO)
Virgil van Dijk, Centre-back (NED)
Kostas Manolas, Centre-back (GRE)
Serge Aurier, Right-back (CIV)
Arjen Robben, Winger (NED)
Riyad Mahrez, Winger (ALG)
Lorenzo Insigne, Forward/Attacking midfielder (ITA)
Sadly for the players above, they’ll be watching the World Cup as spectators, like the rest of us.
Next up for the real tournament: The 32 qualified teams have been seeded in four different pots for the World Cup draw, which will take place on Dec. 1.