FIFA World Cup 2018: The 'Left At Home' XI
Written by: Sushobhan De
These players were in stellar form for their respective clubs, but could not do enough to get on the flight to Russia with their national teams.
With just a couple of days left for the footballing extravaganza that is the FIFA World Cup to kick-start at Luzhniki Stadium in Russia, 32 teams get ready for the big kick-off. But, to make it to this tournament, the managers always have a headache of selecting the best players and in their thirst to find the right combination, they always tend to overlook a few deserving candidates.
So, we have made a team of the rejected candidates and it looks deadly, at least on paper.
Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno
The 26-year-old Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper has not been selected by German national team manager Joachim Low ahead of the World Cup. Interestingly, Leno had featured in Germany’s roster for the Confederation Cup and Euro 2016 Qualifiers.
The reason for Leno not being selected this time could be Germany’s stellar lineup featuring top-notch shot-stoppers. The one-time first-choice goalkeeper has not been in good form for some time now, which is probably the reason for him not getting selected.
Left-Back: Marcos Alonso
Alonso had a fruitful season playing for Chelsea last year. The left-back was instrumental for the Blues throughout the season. However, the 27-year-old Spaniard was not picked from a handful of left-backs for the national team.
Centre-Back: David Luiz
David Luiz was one of the members of Brazil’s squad which got thrashed by Germany in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup. The centre-back, who could also play as a defensive midfielder, was a key player in the Brazilian defence for a long time.
Luiz made some impressive outings after returning to Chelsea in 2016. The 31-year-old must have surely eyed retaliation against Germany as Brazil are one of the favourites to win the tournament this time around. However, he lost his place to Joao Miranda, who is most likely to feature in Brazil’s starting XI alongside Thiago Silva.
The team can battle it out against many teams of this World Cup
Centre-Back: Aymeric Laporte
Laporte had a good season with Manchester City in the recently concluded Premier League. The sturdy defender commanded city’s defense since joining the Sky Blues in January this year.
However, the former Athletic Bilbao man had tough competition to book his ticket to Russia this time as he was not selected by French manager Didier Deschamps.
Right-Back: Hector Bellerin
The 23-year-old Arsenal right-back wasn’t called-up for World Cup duty despite having an impressive season. Bellerin who is known for his speed and aggression was left out of the Spanish squad, declared by Julen Lopetegui, who preferred Nacho Monreal and Dani Carvajal ahead of him.
Central Midfielder: Javi Martinez
The Bayern Munchen star is supposed to miss the World Cup having been snubbed by Spain manager Lopetegui. The 6’3’’ framed defensive midfielder who can also play as a central defender, had a productive season with Bayern Munchen last year.
However, as Spain have got some talented young players who are on the verge of becoming stars, Martinez had to be dropped despite his impressive show.
Central Midfielder: Rodja Nainggolan
One of the biggest names in Belgium football in recent times, Nainggolan, has not been selected by Belgium boss Roberto Martinez. When asked about his decision Martinez said it was a “tactical” one made by the coaching staff and him.
The Belgian proved to be solid for the Italian Side
However, there is some sort of commotion stirring regarding this issue which could be related to discipline as well. The 30-year-old Roma midfielder has been previously criticized for his addiction to smoking and for being late to practice sessions.
Central Midfielder: Cesc Fabregas
The former Barcelona midfielder has been left out of the squad for World Cup 2018. Inevitably, Lapetegui has some other plans as he has not been shy to keep big names out of the squad.
Cesc enjoying in 2010 after Spain's World Cup triumph
However, in the recent past, Fabregas was kept on the bench by Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, which was most likely a tactical decision. The 31-year-old veteran won the 2010 World Cup and will definitely be missed by football lovers this time.
Left Forward: Anthony Martial
Recently, Martial’s future at Manchester United has been the subject of speculation. The Frenchman lost his place in the national side for the World Cup as manager Deschamp kept him out, preferring Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Nabil Fekir and Kylian Mbappe ahead of him.
Manchester United played at a whole different when Martial would step on the pitch
The 22-year-old had a poor run in the Premier League this season with United, as the striker didn’t perform according to expectations for the whole campaign, which was probably the reason behind his exclusion from the national squad.
Striker: Mauro Icardi
Icardi could have become the wild card in the Argentine squad in this World Cup as Manuel Lanzini’s replacement, just as many wanted him to be. But, manager Jorge Sampaoli has snubbed him once again which is still a “surprise” for Argentina fans all over the world.
The striker has been in blistering form for Inter Milan scoring 29 goals last season.
The joint top scorer of Serie A - Mauro Icardi
Right Forward: Leroy Sane
Joachim Low's decision to not pick Leroy Sane in the squad has shocked football fanatics all over the world. The 20-year-old Manchester City winger had an effective season where he scored 14 goals and provided 19 assists for the Citizens.
Despite playing a key role in City’s title win, Sane has not been picked by Germany. His exclusion is potentially asking for a bit too much from Marco Reus and Julien Brandt to make Germany champions once again.
Published: Tue Jun 12, 2018 04:35 PM IST