This is a very attacking team, with a formation of 3-5-2 of big name players that have been snubbed from their nations World Cup squads.
GK – Joe Hart= England (Manchester City)
Hart has had a nightmare past two seasons out on loan from parent club Manchester City. City boss Pep Guardiola made it clear, after Hart’s disastrous 2016 European Championships, he would not be part of his plans and thus sent him out on loan to Torino in his first season and then West Ham in the second. At Torino, Hart made many embarrassing goalkeeping errors and was made into a joke in Italy. At West Ham, he has struggled a lot this season dipping in and out the team behind Hammers current number one Adrian. However, he had the odd standout game where he showed his excellent shot stopping ability, with man of the match performances against Crystal Palace and Chelsea.
I would agree he was rightly removed as England’s number one, but having gone from first to fourth choice in just a few months, people can see why Hart was devastated not to make the plane to Russia. The fact is though that Hart, this season hasn’t played enough games because of his poor form and Gareth Southgate’s ideology that players should be picked on form and not name, is proven by Hart’s exclusion from the squad. Right decision for me.
LB – Marcos Alonso= Spain (Chelsea)
Chelsea as a whole have had a very poor season and have severely underachieved, with manager Antonio Conte unable to get the best out of his players. However, Alonso has been one of the very few that has consistently performed, with him being placed in the Premier League PFA team of the season. But Alonso certainly hasn’t been at his best, which is why there was much controversy about his inclusion in the team of the season. That being said, overall he is a very good player and one of the best left backs in Europe. His goalscoring record for a left back is very impressive and can defensively hold his own, not to mention his wonderful free kick ability.
This is why myself and others are bemused as to why he hasn’t made the squad and fellow countrymen Nacho Monreal has, when the majority would argue Alonso has had the better season and offers much more to the team. Definitely the wrong decision for me.
CB – Shkodran Mustafi= Germany (Arsenal)
Mustafi has had a very poor two seasons after signing with Arsenal at the start of the 2016/17 season. The £37 million man has been much of a flop for the Gunners, after supporters were optimistic about having a World Cup winning centre back in their team. But the German hasn’t been the same player, ever since the move and has been subsequently dropped from a very poor Arsenal team, many times.
If a defender can’t get in a very poor Arsenal backline, then there should be no way that he should get in Germany’s squad. Right decision for me.
RB – Hector Bellerin= Spain (Arsenal)
Since bursting onto the scene at such a young age and creating so much hype around him after he broke into the Arsenal team in the 2014/15 season. However, since the youngster hasn’t lived up to the hype and thus has struggled to get into Spain squads. He possesses breathtaking pace and dribbling ability but defensively he has often struggled, therefore he doesn’t look good enough to break into the Spanish squad, until he fixes his defensive worries. Right decision for me.
LM – Anthony Martial= France (Manchester United)
Much like Bellerin, Martial hasn’t lived up to the hype around him after his debut season in the Premier League. A sensational debut against Liverpool, will long live in the memories of United supporters but since then Martial’s United career hasn’t taken off. The winger has been incredibly inconsistent and therefore gets a lot of criticism from the media as many believe he isn’t good enough to start for the Red Devils. Over this season, his stats are okay, he’s scored 9 goals and assisted 5 but the competition and quality in the French team in attacking positions is so high, he’ll struggle to get past the likes of Payet, Coman, Dembele, Griezmann etc. Right decision for me.
CM – Cesc Fabregas= Spain (Chelsea)
The 31 year old is a Premier League legend, he’s won 2 Premier League trophies and is the second highest in assists and the only player in history to register 10+ assists in six different Premier League seasons. Although, in recent years the Spaniard hasn’t been given many minutes by manager Conte. Chelsea, as mentioned earlier had a poor season but unlike Alonso, this season has been one to forget for the former Arsenal man. Despite playing 49 games (the most ever under Conte), he’s been a shadow of his usual self.
The competition in Spain’s midfield is staggering and competing with the likes of Isco, David Silva, Iniesta, Koke etc. who all have had better seasons, there’s no surprise that Fabregas isn’t on the plane to Russia. Right decision for me.
CM – Radja Nainggolan= Belgium (Roma)
Nainggolan is the complete midfielder; a modern day Steven Gerrard, the Belgium can slot into a variety of roles in the midfield. When you watch Nainggolan, you cannot take your eyes of him, his telling passing ability and fiercely powerful shot make him a managers dream to have in your squad. He was the heartbeat of Roma’s amazing Champions League campaign, shining in ties against European giants Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Barcelona.
Therefore, Roberto Martinez’s decision to leave him out the squad was staggering to say the least but Martinez decision is because of his attitude not on the field but off it. He’s been caught late to training numerous times and his relationship with Martinez is sour to say the least. Nevertheless, with a World Cup on the line, the pair should have built bridges and forced each other to get on for the sake of the team. Wrong decision for me.
CM – Jack Wilshere= England (Arsenal)
A player with so much potential, Wilshere’s career has suffered because of injury and suspension. There’s no doubt in my mind that he is a quality player and his eye for a pass and ability to beat a man is something England have cried out for in previous tournaments. After being picked by Roy Hodgson for the 2016 Euros after not playing virtually any football was ludicrous and on the big stage Wilshere like England crumbled. This season has been Wilshere’s best in a long time, with a load of games under his belt, he was unsurprisingly shocked not to make the plane.
Southgate has clearly gone for form over name, but I don’t believe the likes of Ruben Loftus Cheek and Eric Dier have had better seasons than Wilshere. Wrong decision for me.
RM – Franck Ribery= France (Bayern Munich)
The 35 year old Bayern Munich legend, has played 34 times in all competitions this season and has looked like the old Ribery back in his prime, at points in this season. However, the winger hasn’t played for his national side since a friendly back in 2014 against Holland. Therefore, his exclusion from the squad doesn’t come to much of a surprise, with all the competition in France’s attacking options, however Ribery will still feel annoyed he hasn’t done enough to get on the plane. Right decision for me.
ST – Mauro Icardi= Argentina (Inter Milan)
The Argentine striker has been one of the most in form strikers in Europe over the course of the season, netting 29 goals in just 34 league appearances, finishing as the top scorer in Serie A. He’s a player that scares opposition defences, with his pace and clinical finishing, which is why he’d be an asset to any other World Cup squad. Despite his impressive goalscoring record, Icardi has been left out of the previous squads for the previous four games under manager Jorge Sampaoli.
Sampaoli’s decision to take only two out and out strikers in Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero, doesn’t help Icardi’s chances but the Inter striker has had a much better season than Higuain and also Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala, who made the squad. Wrong decision for me.
ST – Karim Benzema= France (Real Madrid)
This season hasn’t been the French strikers best, scoring just 11 goals in 46 games in all competitions. His league form has been atrocious much like his teams but in the Champions League he put in stellar match winning performances against the likes of PSG, Juventus etc. to prove he can still perform on the big stage.
Benzema played for France in their last friendly against Armenia, where he scored two and assisted one. His competition up front includes in-form Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud and also Antoine Griezmann who are the only two out and out strikers in manager Deschamps team. To not even make the standby list, is staggering but on that list is Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal, who’s played better than Benzema this season. Right decision for me.
Who else should make this list? Let us know in the comments below!