World Cup 2018: Alexis, Bale & the stars who could miss the tournament

The World Cup is all about bringing together the best players on the planet, but some superstars are in real danger of seeing their countries fail to qualify for the tournament in Russia in 2018.

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Here, we look at some of the huge names who might not get the opportunity to grace the game's grandest stage...

DAVID ALABA (AUSTRIA)

HD David Alaba Austria

The Austrians stormed to qualification for Euro 2016, but they are in real trouble on the road to Russia.

Marcel Koller's men are fourth in their group, four points behind co-leaders Serbia and the Republic of Ireland, meaning Bayern Munich ace Alaba will have to be at his inspirational best in the coming months if he is to realise his dream of playing at a World Cup.

GARETH BALE (WALES)

Gareth Bale

The Real Madrid winger played a key role in his nation's surprise run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, but there's a very strong chance that he will not be present in Russia.

Wales are currently third in their group, ahead of Austria on goal difference and, like Alaba's team, four points behind joint-leaders Serbia and the Republic of Ireland with five games to play.

TIM CAHILL (AUSTRALIA)

Tim Cahill Australia v United Arab Emirates World Cup qualifying 28032017

The 37-year-old midfielder is doing everything in his power to make it to one more World Cup, with nine qualification goals to his name already.

However, Australia are going to have to do things the hard way. They sit third in AFC Group B, meaning that - as things stand - they will have to win an Asian play-off game just to get into another play-off against the fourth-placed team from North & Central America which will decide whether or not they make it to Russia.

EDIN DZEKO (BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA)

Edin Dzeko Bosnia

The Roma striker is arguably in the best form of his career having already netted 21 times in Serie A this season, but Bosnia are locked in a three-way fight with Belgium and Greece for automatic qualification for Russia 2018.

Dzeko & Co. currently sit third, three points behind the table-topping Belgians and one off the second-placed Greeks.

RIYAD MAHREZ (ALGERIA)

Riyad Mahrez Algeria

After playing a pivotal part in Leicester City's shock Premier League title triumph last season, the winger's form has dipped dramatically this term.

He has improved in recent weeks, though, and is now praying that Algeria do likewise. The Desert Warriors are bottom of their CAF qualification group after two rounds of action with just one point to their name.

SADIO MANE (SENEGAL)

Sadio Mane Senegal

The Liverpool ace has enjoyed a sensational debut season at Anfield but will need to be at his brilliant best if Senegal are to qualify for the finals in Russia.

There may only be two rounds gone in CAF Group D but the Lions of Teranga have already fallen behind both Burkina Faso and South Africa.

ARJEN ROBBEN (NETHERLANDS)

Arjen Robben Netherlands

As the Dutchman recently showed in the Champions League against Arsenal, he remains one of the world's most dangerous wingers. However, his hopes of playing in one more World Cup are in serious jeopardy, with Netherlands in utter disarray.

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Danny Blind was sacked as the country's coach after a shock loss to Bulgaria left them fourth in their group, six points off top spot and with a place in the play-offs looking like their only hope of reaching the finals.

ALEXIS SANCHEZ (CHILE)

Alexis Sanchez Chile

The Arsenal star has enjoyed great success with his nation in recent years, with La Roja having won the last two Copa America titles.

Chile are struggling at the moment, however, with Juan Antonio Pizzi's side currently sitting sixth in the South American qualification group, two places and one point below Colombia in the fourth and final automatic qualification berth.

KASPER SCHMEICHEL (DENMARK)

Kasper Schmeichel Denmark

No player was as influential in Leicester City's remarkable run to the quarter-finals of this season's Champions League as the 30-year-old goalkeeper, but things have not been going quite as well for Peter Schmeichel's son at international level.

Denmark only trail second-placed Montenegro on goal difference but are six points adrift of UEFA Group E leaders Poland in the race for automatic qualification.

ARDA TURAN (TURKEY)

Arda Turan Turkey

Things have not gone too well for the former Atletico Madrid man since he agreed to join Barcelona in the summer of 2015, and now he looks set to miss out on the chance to play in a first World Cup next year.

Turkey are fourth in UEFA Group I, five points behind pace-setters Croatia and battling Iceland and Ukraine for a play-off spot.

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