World Cup Exiles: The Best 11 Players Not Going To Brazil


Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the best player who won't be at the World Cup this summer. We can blame Sweden's failings for that fact, but who are the best players whose nation will be in Brazil without them?

Some were left out because their coach didn't think they were good enough. Some for other reasons entirely, to be explained here. The omission of others, however, is just inexplicable.

Here's a World Cup exiles XI....

 

GOALKEEPER—Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany)

Ter Stegen could be Barcelona's first-choice goalkeeper next season, but the highly-rated 22-year-old was not afforded a spot in Joachim Loew's Germany squad for the World Cup.

Loew was always going to pick Manuel Neuer as his no. 1. Ron-Robert Zieler and Roman Weidenfeller will be his back-up men, leaving Ter Stegen to focus on setting up his new life in Spain.

 

RIGHT-BACK—Gregory van der Wiel (Netherlands)

Louis van Gaal's decision to leave PSG's Van Der Wiel at home was seen as the boldest call in his Netherlands selection by those in the know. The right-back started 24 games in Ligue 1 and six in the Champions League for the French champions last season.

 

CENTRE-BACK—John Terry (England)

We all know the JT story. The billing of 'captain, leader, legend' still applies to Chelsea fans, but Terry's relationship with the FA suffered irreparable damage when he was stripped of the captaincy for the second time as he awaited trial on their charge of racist abuse.

Having been found guilty by the FA, should Terry have been offered a way back? If you can forgive his 'crimes', and overlook the man the media would have us know, there's no question he's still England's best central defender.

 

CENTRE-BACK—Jose Fonte (Portugal)

It was not easy to find Terry a partner, but the 30-year-old Fonte was part of a strong Southampton defensive unit under Mauricio Pochettino last season, yet is still no closer to a first senior cap for Portugal. 

 

LEFT-BACK—Ashley Cole (England)

A victim of England's left-back riches, Cole made way for Luke Shaw in Roy Hodgson's squad for Brazil. With over 100 caps to his name and still in fine fettle, Hodgson may yet regret his decision to leave Cole at home.

We're talking about one of the best fullbacks of his generation and a player who could yet be re-born with the right summer move.

 

RIGHT MIDFIELD—Landon Donovan (USA)

Perhaps the most surprising omission of them all, Donovan has come to define the US national team and ranks as the best player America has produced. His wealth of experience was not enough to convince Jurgen Klinsmann he merited a ticket to Brazil however.

 

CENTRAL MIDFIELD—Francesco Totti (Italy)

Totti was always going to make my team. He might be 37, but when moments of inspiration can be the difference between eternal World Cup glory and going home, Totti is still a man with magic dust on his boots.

It was always unlikely he'd be called out of retirement, but how we would have loved to see him one last time on the biggest stage. A flick here, a trick there. It would have been beautiful.

 

CENTRAL MIDFIELD— Philippe Coutinho (Brazil)

Coutinho's impressive form for Liverpool wasn't enough to bag him a spot in Luis Felipe Scolari's Brazil squad for the World Cup. The 21-year-old will have plenty more chances, but he could have provided a nuanced plan B for the home nation.

 

LEFT MIDFIELD—Samir Nasri (France)

Nasri's influential performances for Manchester City last season - particularly towards the end of their title-winning campaign - surely deserved a place in Didier Deschamps' France squad.

Nasri's divisive personality, rather than his footballing talent, was likely the reason Deschamps decided to go without him.

 

STRIKER—Mario Gomez (Germany)

Gomez was left out for fitness reasons by Germany coach Loew, having been out for much of the season with injury. His record of 25 goals in 59 appearances for his country, combined with his performance at Euro 2012, might suggest he could have been included as a very useful impact substitute, however.

 

STRIKER—Carlos Tevez (Argentina)

Tevez scored 19 Serie A goals as Juventus won the title last season and looked as sharp as at any point in his career. He hasn't played for Argentina since 2011, however, and won't be at the World Cup as they attempt to break Brazilian hearts.

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