The Best Players Left Out Of The FIFA World Cup 2014
Chelsea man, Ashley Cole, didn’t waste any time announcing his retirement from international soccer after he was left out by Roy Hodgson in the World Cup’s preliminary squad. Cole had been England’s best left back for years but his lack of games for Chelsea forced Hodgson’s hand.
For one reason or another, there are players who have been in good form for their clubs but failed to find a place in their country’s preliminary roster. So I decided to see if I can come up with a decent alternative team, so to speak, of players who will not be traveling to Brazil. Here is my “World Cup’s Rejected Eleven” who may be popular with their respective clubs but received no love from their country.
The Real Madrid shot stopper was in imperious form in the La Liga this season. He played 36 games in total for the Los Blancos and kept 16 clean sheets. He was instrumental in helping Real make a serious push for the league title. Yes, the Madrid club came up short, but this by no means is reflective of the fact how awesome he was between the sticks this season.
Vicente Del Bosque has gone for experience with Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina. They will be joined by the young David De Gea who was voted Manchester United’s player of the season. It is a brave call by Del Bosque but who are we to argue with the man who has won the World Cup and the European Championship with Spain.
Rafinha, the Bayern Munich right back can not only sing “It’s a Wonderful World” just like Luis Armstrong, he can also defend better than most players in the world. You don’t get a spot in the Bayern Munich squad only for your singing abilities. The Brazilian played in 28 games in the Bundesliga and was also a fixture in 9 UEFA Champions League encounters for the German champions. Rafinha’s form has been consistent and it came as a surprise to a lot of people when Scolari didn’t call him up, even for the preliminary 30 man squad.
Filipe Luis can count himself really unlucky not to be playing for Brazil in the World Cup on home soil. His omission from the team has left quite a lot of people scratching their heads (including me). Marcelo from Real Madrid will most probably start for The Selecao but Filipe Luis, many will argue, has been the more consistent of the two. The Atletico Madrid defender has been in brilliant form and is an important cog of the meanest defensive machine in club soccer this season.
Atletico won the La Liga for the first time since 1996 and lost to Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League. Luis had to be taken off due to injury in that encounter and his removal played a big part in decimating Atletico’s bid for a historic domestic and European double. Filipe Luis played in a total of 42 games in the La Liga and the Champions League and his performances haven’t gone unnoticed by the big boys in Europe. He might be a target of a big money move during the summer and it will be merited as well.
Another shock omission by Scolari is of Filipe Luis’s Atletico team mate, center back Miranda. The Brazilian has been the rock in the center of Atletico’s defense. He played in 32 and 13 games for the club in the La Liga and the Champions League respectively. On form, he was for sure among the best center backs in the season that just ended. Scolari didn’t leave him out on form either, he just likes how Henrique (Miranda’s replacement) plays. It can very well turn out to be one of those calls the manager ends up regretting.
Marquinhos is one of the most talked about young defenders in the game today. The PSG center back has been in great form. He plays alongside Brazil’s captain Thiago Silva at club level and their partnership was crucial for PSG in winning the league. Big things are expected of the club and Marquinhos in the next season and beyond. He is only 21 years old so time is on his side. Scolari has gone for experience in the team this time around but Marquinhos will soon be representing his country on a more consistent basis. He is just too talented not to do that.
Now that we have decided on the defense, and yes I know it is an all Brazilian back, let’s move on to the engine of the team, the midfield. The first position up for grabs is that of the holding midfielder. I can think of no one better than the Atletico Madrid captain, Gabi. Gabi’s club manager, Diego Simeone made him the captain and his decision has been vindicated in some style.
He hurries attackers and breaks up plays better than a lot of players in the same position. Couple that with his passing range and we have a player at the top of his game. He played 32 games in the league for the club and 12 in Europe. His performances and his leadership were instrumental in Atletico winning the league and reaching the final of the Champions League. It was his corner in the last game of the season against Barcelona that Diego Godin scored to give the club their first league title in eighteen years. No doubt, he is a big game player.
Creative, dynamic and incredible technical ability are what makes Philippe Coutinho such a special young player. He is just 21 years old and his form put his club Liverpool ‘a Steven Gerrard slip away’ from winning the league title for the first time in 24 years. The Brazilian was their attacking creative force.
He played in all of Liverpool’s games in the league bar five and created a total of 64 chances. His pass accuracy was 81% and Coutinho also chipped in with 5 goals. His exclusion by Scolari in the World Cup squad raised more than just a few eyebrows but like Marquinhos, Coutinho has time on his side. If he keeps on performing, then he will be one of the first names on The Selecao team sheet for quite some time to come.
Isco is another player who is destined for great things in the future. The 22 year old Real Madrid midfielder joined the Spanish giants from Malaga and became a permanent fixture in the side. His form somewhat fell away in the second half of the season but he still managed to play 32 games in the La Liga and 12 in the Champions League. Isco also scored 11 goals for his club in both competitions.
Isco began the final of the Copa del Rey when Real Madrid beat Barcelona. However, he made his biggest impact when he came on as a second half substitute in the Champions League final. His creativity and the runs he made opened up spaces for Real Madrid to launch one attack after another. The Atletico resolve was eventually broken and Real finally got their hands on the coveted La Decima.
Samir Nasri himself expected to be dropped from the World Cup squad by Didier Deschamps but it still came as a shock to a lot of people, especially his girlfriend (Google her tweet). The complaints were not without merit either. After being left in a bit of a lurch last season by Roberto Mancini at Manchester City, the Frenchman really stepped up to the plate as his club were crowned champions of England for the second time in the last three seasons.
Nasri was one of the stars for Manchester City as they made it out of the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in their history. He played seven games in the tournament, scored once and created 16 chances for his teammates. His average pass completion ratio? 89%.
The numbers make even more impressive reading in the league. Nasri played a part in 34 games, scored 7 goals, created 91 chances and his pass accuracy was an astonishing 91%. These are stats of a player in stellar form and he can really count himself unlucky not to be on the plane to Brazil. Nasri is considering his France future as well because of being left out and if he retires from International soccer, then we might just end up seeing an exceptional player bow out before reaching his peak.
Lucas Moura is another young Brazilian with huge potential. He has potential, that is there for everyone to see but he has been a little too inconsistent and that has cost him his place in the Brazil squad for the World Cup.
Moura played 36 games for Paris Saint-Germain and scored 5 goals while creating 54 chances. His pass accuracy was also a decent 87%. What these stats don’t tell is that he played for 90 minutes in just 7 games. He was brought on as a substitute in 18 matches while he was substituted at some point on 11 occasions. For a team that won the league title, it just wasn’t quite good enough. In the Champions League, Moura took part in 10 games and failed to score in all of those encounters. He was named in the starting line-up in Europe just three times. Moura is just 21 years old and has enough talent to become a special player in the future. It is only he himself who can turn this around and prove to the world he has what it takes to reach the top. He owes it to all the people who have believed in him but most importantly, he owes it to himself.
Carlos Tevez has 69 caps for Argentina and the last of those came in 2011. The game was a Copa America quarterfinal against Uruguay. Tevez missed a penalty, the coach Sergio Batista got himself sacked and his replacement Alejandro Sabella decided that the Juventus forward didn’t quite fit in his plans.
Tevez’s form is not the issue here because in his first season with the Old Lady of Italian soccer, the little striker scored 19 goals and created 58 chances to lead Juventus to their third successive league title. His form is fine, it is just that Argentina have the likes of Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and one Lionel Messi in their ranks. They are complimented by the likes of Angel Di Maria and Ezeqiuel Lavezzi. Sabella thinks Tevez doesn’t fit in his plans with how he wants Argentina to play. We will just have to wait and see if this is the right call or not. It is a big risk and it can very easily backfire on him.
You put all of these players in one team and it is more than just a good side. My ideal formation would be a 4-1-4-1 with Gabi protecting the defense and the Isco/Nasri combo flanked by Coutinho and Moura in front of him. Tevez is good enough to play the lone striker role up front.
What do you think? Are these the best eleven players who’ve been dumped by their national teams for the World Cup? Let’s hear what you have to say about this.
Note: Stats in the blog are taken from squawka.com.