Marco Reus, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer and Co are rightly touted as favourites to lift the 2018 FIFA World Cup with Germany in Russia, but how would they fare against this hypothetical XI of Bundesliga stars who didn't make it to the tournament?

bundesliga.com has put together a heavyweight line-up comprising players who just fell short of booking their ticket to the finals…

Goalkeeper

Lukas Hradecky (Bayer Leverkusen and Finland)

Why isn't he there?
The former Eintracht Frankfurt stopper played every minute of Finland's qualifying campaign, and only conceded 13 goals in a tricky Group I that also included Iceland, Croatia and Turkey. Ultimately, though, their inability to hold on to a lead - coupled with the fact the Huuhkajat only scored nine times - cost them dear and deprived Hradecky of a World Cup debut.

Why he should be
Even the very best goalkeepers can make mistakes – just ask Sven Ulreich, Loris Karius and David de Gea, to name but a few – but Hradecky has ice-cool Scandinavian blood coursing through his veins and seems impervious to pressure. The 28-year-old did not miss a minute of Bundesliga action in 2017/18 and was a key member of Niko Kovac's Frankfurt side that lifted the DFB Cup title. That kind of composure at the back would be crucial to spreading confidence throughout this World Cup team.

WATCH: 60 seconds under pressure with Hradecky!

Lukas Hradecky has joined Bayer Leverkusen from Eintracht Frankfurt ahead of the 2018/19 season
Lukas Hradecky has joined Bayer Leverkusen from Eintracht Frankfurt ahead of the 2018/19 season © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Defenders

Theodore Gebre Selassie (Werder Bremen and Czech Republic)

Why isn't he there?
Czech Republic were somewhat unfortunate to be drawn alongside Germany in qualifying Group C, effectively making that section a race for second place. The Czechs were in contention right until the end, but a costly 2-0 defeat away to fellow hopefuls Northern Ireland three games before the end gave them too big a mountain to climb, and they ended up in third.

Why he should be
Yes, admittedly Selassie's name may lack the allure of some of the more world-renowned figures in this particular fantasy team, but make no mistake: he is a baller. A marauding right-back, Selassie is a dynamic presence up and down the wing. Not only did he contribute three goals to Werder Bremen's Bundesliga campaign in 2017/18, he played more minutes than any other outfield player at the club and helped them achieve the fourth best defensive record (40 goals conceded) in the league – a better return than Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim, Leverkusen and Frankfurt, among others.

Theodore Gebre Selassie has made 45 internatiaonl appearances for Czech Republic.
Theodore Gebre Selassie has made 45 internatiaonl appearances for Czech Republic. © imago

Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund and Greece)

Why isn't he there?
Sokratis was at the heart of a Greece side that only suffered one defeat (against runaway Group H winners Belgium) in Russia 2018 qualifying, helping them concede just six times in 10 assignments. After finishing as runners-up in the standings they went through to the play-offs and although Sokratis scored in the first leg against Croatia, a heavy 4-1 defeat proved impossible to come back from in the return fixture. 

Why he should be
Do we really need to explain? Hewn in the image of an ancient Greek sculpture, the chiselled centre-back has been a muscular figure in the Dortmund side for several years and played more Bundesliga minutes last term than any other BVB player apart from goalkeeper Roman Bürki. The 30-year-old rarely gives the ball away and won an eye-watering 67 per cent of all his challenges in 2017/18 – attributes any team could do with at the global showpiece.

A man who would not be out of his depth in any defence: Dortmund's Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
A man who would not be out of his depth in any defence: Dortmund's Sokratis Papastathopoulos. © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Naldo (Schalke and Brazil)

Why isn't he there?
This is a very good question. Naldo could scarcely have played any better in 2017/18 for Schalke, so much so that Brazil head coach Tite admitted he was considering giving the 35-year-old a recall to the national team for the first time since 2009. However, ultimately there was no room in the final 23-man squad for the centre-back, with Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Miranda and Pedro Geromel all preferred in his stead.

Why he should be
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 10 months you already know why. Naldo was given a new lease of life under Domenico Tedesco at the Royal Blues and last season was arguably the finest of his career. He did not miss a single minute of Bundesliga action, helped Schalke keep the league's second-meanest defence (37 goals), scored seven at the other end himself and is virtually unbeatable in the air, winning four out of every five aerial duels. Seriously Brazil: if you don't win the World Cup this year, you know why…

Naldo was a key link in Domenico Tedesco's Schalke side, who finished second in the Bundesliga last season.
Naldo was a key link in Domenico Tedesco's Schalke side, who finished second in the Bundesliga last season. © gettyimages / PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP

David Alaba (Bayern Munich and Austria)

Why isn't he there?
The disappointment of Austria's showing at UEFA EURO 2016 – where they finished bottom of Group F – seeped into their Russia 2018 qualifying campaign. Despite a side filled with experienced internationals, such as fellow Bundesliga stars Marcel Sabitzer, Martin Harnik and Alessandro Schöpf, Austria failed to get going and ended up fourth in Group D, behind Serbia, Republic of Ireland and Wales.

Why he should be
The World Cup provides the stage for the very best players on the planet to strut their stuff, and there is no doubt Alaba belongs in that category. At 25 he is approaching his peak, while his positioning and awareness mean he is as solid as they come in defence. Blessed with pace, pinpoint crosses and a lethal eye for a free-kick, Alaba's two goals and three assists for Bayern in 2017/18 make him an asset at the other end of the pitch too.

David Alaba was already won seven Bundesliga titles as a player despite being only 25-years-old.
David Alaba was already won seven Bundesliga titles as a player despite being only 25-years-old. © imago

Defensive midfield

Javi Martinez (Bayern and Spain)

Why isn't he there?
Like Naldo, Martinez's absence from Russia is a strange one – and not even the midfielder himself knows why he was left out of the Spain squad: [Julen Lopetegui] never called me or said anything about it," Martinez told ESPN. In the end it was not a huge surprise though, as the 29-year-old's last call up to La Roja was for friendly against France in March 2017.

Why he should be
Restoring Martinez to defensive midfield from centre-back was Jupp Heynckes' first piece of business when he took over as Bayern coach last October. And if a man of Heynckes' experience and success wants Martinez in his team, anyone should. A towering, authoritative figure, the Spaniard reads the game superbly and is seemingly always in the right place to break up opposition attacks.

Martinez has been a key member of Bayern's title-winning team, but he was overlooked by his country.
Martinez has been a key member of Bayern's title-winning team, but he was overlooked by his country. © imago

Arturo Vidal (Bayern and Chile)

Why isn't he there?
As two-time Copa America champions, Chile were widely regarded as dark horses for the World Cup title not so long ago, but a series of below-par performances in South American qualifying left them stunned, ending up in sixth place in the round-robin 10-team table. They almost squeezed into fifth – and the accompanying intercontinental play-off spot – but a 3-0 defeat to Brazil in their last fixture left them with an inferior goal difference to Peru.

Why he should be
World Cups are not won by talent alone, but by experience and an unbending will to win. In this regard, there is nobody better in the game. Vidal's aggression and innate determination to succeed make him the driving force of any side, while his tireless running and full-blooded tackling make for an intimidating presence in midfield.

Despite missing out on the World Cup with Chile, Arturo Vidal's performances for Bayern mean he's still regarded as
Despite missing out on the World Cup with Chile, Arturo Vidal's performances for Bayern mean he's still regarded as © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Action Imagery

Attacking midfield

Christian Pulisic (Dortmund and USA)

Why isn't he there?
That the USA didn't manage to get their hands on a ticket to Russia 2018 is no fault of Pulisic's. The 19-year-old almost single-handedly dragged the Stars and Stripes to the verge of qualification, scoring seven goals and providing six assists along the way. However, even that was not enough to spare the blushes of an underperforming US team that finished fifth in the final six-team hexagonal stage of CONCACAF zone qualifying.

Why he should be
Pulisic plays in a more central role for his national team and it would be an intriguing yardstick in his development to see him perform against the best defenders in the world. Given his fearlessness, maturity and pace – not to mention the frighteningly steep upward trajectory of his career so far – the chances are he would emerge with his reputation very much intact.

Watch: Dortmund's wonderkid, Christian Pulisic!

Arjen Robben (Bayern and the Netherlands)

Why isn't he there?
The Netherlands were drawn in an tricky qualifying group alongside France and Sweden, but having reached the semi-finals at the 2014 World Cup, the Oranje were fully expected to negotiate their way to this year's finals. However, they suffered three defeats – including a humiliating 4-0 loss to eventual Group A winners France – and even though Robben scored a brace to beat Sweden 2-0 in the team's last qualifier, the Scandinavians' far superior goal difference earned them the play-off spot. Robben subsequently announced his retirement from international football.

Why he should be
Game-changing attacking players are a highly sought-after commodity nowadays – just look at the huge fees being forked out in recent transfer windows – and there are few as good or effective as Robben. He may be 34 but he still strikes fear into the hearts of full-backs wherever he goes, with his pace, direct running and terrifying left boot as dangerous as ever.

Watch: Arjen Robben's Top 5 goals!

Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen and ???)

Why isn't he there?
Born and raised in Jamaica, Bailey only ever made one appearance in his country's colours, a friendly for the U-23s against the Cayman Islands in March 2015. Since then he has refused to feature for the Reggae Boyz, however, telling Kicker: "I've had personal problems with the FA since I was 11 or 12. I could've played for Jamaica a long time ago, but there are reasons why I don't." Jamaica were eliminated from CONCACAF qualifying for Russia 2018 in the fourth round anyway, and while it was reported that England were among a number of eligible nations interested in Bailey's services, ultimately nothing came of it.

Why he should be
Bailey enjoyed a superb first full Bundesliga season in 2017/18, chipping in with nine goals and seven assists to help Leverkusen return to European competition next setermason. He did so with some seriously impressive displays, his pace on the counter-attack tearing defences apart, while he has a habit of scoring from distance with his powerful left foot.

Leon Bailey has not made a senior international appearance for his native Jamaica, and could one day represent Germany, England or even Belgium.
Leon Bailey has not made a senior international appearance for his native Jamaica, and could one day represent Germany, England or even Belgium. © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Lukas Schulze

Forward

Mario Götze (Dortmund and Germany)

Why isn't he there?
Who can afford to leave out the scorer of the winning goal at the last World Cup? Well, erm, Germany can. Such is the strength in depth available to Joachim Löw that only those who played consistently well throughout the season made the final cut. And as Götze struggled for form after illness and injury in 2017/18, he didn't make the grade this time.

Why he should be
He's Mario Götze. And by that we mean: outstanding technique, elusive movement and the ability to thread a killer pass through the tightest of defences. Indeed, there are few players as naturally gifted as the Dortmund attacker anywhere. And, as the saying goes, there is no substitute for experience - and who better to deal with the pressure that comes with a World Cup than the man who came on as a substitute to fire Germany to glory four years ago? 

WATCH: Götze's top three goals for Dortmund

Click here to see the Bundesliga's World Cup dream team!