Lionel Messi got there last night. Cristiano Ronaldo sealed his place a few hours earlier. They can mop their damp bows at the Adidas at Nike HQ. The stars have aligned. Well, most of them.
The World Cup wouldn’t be the same without those two big hitters, but if you believe it’s going to be a Russia 2018 full of every big name imaginable, then think again. There are plenty A-listers not heading out next summer.
We’ve put together a squad of stars who, like us mere mortals, will be watching the action unfold on the TV.
Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak (Slovenia)
The Atletico Madrid glovesman was perhaps Group F’s stand out player but alas, they could only finish in fourth. He won’t get the chance to test himself against the best international football has to offer.
Right back: Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)
The Manchester United winger has converted himself into one of the Premier League’s most reliable full-backs. Deserved his chance in the World Cup for his adaptability alone.
Yellow peril: Antonio Valencia and Ecuador are staying at home
Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands)
It’s not been the best of years for the big centre back. In limbo at club level, he won’t be playing next summer now either after Holland’s second qualification failure in a row.
Centre-back: Daley Blind (Netherlands)
At 27, the Manchester United man may well get one more stab at the World Cup but the Dutchman is one of Holland’s most passionate players. He has a big part to play in the rebuild.
Left-back: David Alaba (Austria)
The Bayern Munich man is seen as one of the game’s great left-backs at the moment but we won’t be seeing his skills down the left flank thanks to Austria’s miserable Group D campaign.
Centre-midfield: Arturo Vidal (Chile)
How much did Chile miss their main midfield man against Brazil last night? The huge holes left by his absence were exploited ruthlessly as Vidal watched on from the stands.
Centre-midfield: Christian Pulisic (USA)
The States’ shooting star won’t be in Russia. Described as ‘the best of an awful bunch’ by American media, the Borussia Dortmund man kept them in touching distance.
Right wing: Gareth Bale (Wales)
One man team? Chris Coleman says no, but with Gareth Bale the Welsh would have surely unlocked the Irish door on Monday night. Injured at the worst time possible.
Attacking midfield: Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
Well, at least he has the whole summer to sort out where he wants to play next season. The Arsenal man has come under fire for his performances for his country and won’t get the chance to put that right in Russia.
Left wing: Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
The Dutch’s biggest attacking star has called it a day after another big qualification failure. You can’t blame him after a great international career has ended in an undignified way.
Centre forward: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
One of biggest talents to come out of Africa will be putting his feet up. He blamed dodgy orange juice for Gabon’s 3-0 defeat to Morocco. Aubameyang and his pals were sick as parrots.
Craig Gordon (Scotland)
Joel Matip (Cameroon)
Scott Brown (Scotland)
Henrich Mkhitaryan (Armenia)
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Edin Dzeko (Bosnia)
Marek Hamsik (Slovakia)