From Sven Ulreich to Anthony Martial: Top players dropped for FIFA World Cup 2018

Here is a team made of top names who were axed from World Cup squads of their respective countries.

Published: 12th June 2018 08:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th June 2018 08:46 PM   |  A+A-

Top casualties: Leroy Sane, David Luiz, Joe Hart and Radja Nainggolan (Photos | AP, AFP)

Online Desk

There will be some unexpected high-profile snubbings before each edition of the tournament, opening lots of cries and debates in football circles. Here is a team made of top names who were axed from this year's World Cup squads of their respective countries.

Sven Ulreich, Germany (GOALKEEPER)

Sven Ulreich | AFP

The 30-year-old has done a commendable job for German champions Bayern Munich since Manuel Neuer’s injury last September. Deputizing his national captain, Ulreich managed 12 clean sheets in the Bundesliga. With Neuer's return and Barcelona first-choice Marc-Andre Ter Stegen already in place, there was only one spot left in the national team. The silly mistake against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final turned everything upside down for Sven as German coach Joachim Leow handed the remaining spot to PSG’s Kevin Trapp instead.

Alex Sandro, Brazil (LEFT-BACK)

Alex Sandro | AFP

A couple of injuries combined with a modest show with Juventus in Serie A cost one of Europe’s most chased-after defenders a spot in the Brazil World Cup squad. The 27-year-old was nowhere near his best past season, but not many would have imagined Felipe Luis finding a spot in the Canary camp with Marcelo, instead of Sandro. Though some critics label his omission an obvious thing, given coach Tite’s time on the field-oriented analysis, a fit Sandro would have added some serious depth to the Brazilian backline against tough oppositions.

Aymeric Laporte, France (CENTRE-BACK)

Given the size of wardrobe France coach Didier Deschamps had, it was obvious that some fancy suits had to left

Aymeric Laporte | AFP

behind. Unfortunately for Laporte, he happened to be one among the celebrity casualties. He joined Manchester City from Atletico Bilbao in January and broke into manager Pep Guardiola's playing-eleven pretty soon. The 24-year-old was able to continue his impressive run in England too, leaving very little space for critical errors. Though he was named in the national squad for the last year's World Cup qualifiers, Deschamps was yet to give him the senior debut. Laurent Koscielny’s injury increased his chances of earning it at the ultimate stage of the game but turns out that is not happening. With age really on his side, there is much time left for the tough centre-back to find a place in the blue jersey.

Javi Martinez, Spain (CENTRE-BACK)

Javi Martinez | AFP

Earlier in March, coach Julen Lopetegui had said Martinez had all chances of making it into the squad to Russia, but it turns out that the former goalkeeper has had a change in mind. No doubt that Javi is the 2010 champions’ most trusted and experienced defender after captain Sergio Ramos, but an inconsistent spell with Bayern Munich seems to have overturned this advantage for the 29-year-old in a star-studded La Roja squad. If not ravaged by injuries, Martinez has fair chances of making it to Qatar in 2022.

David Luiz, Brazil (LEFT-BACK)

A teary-eyed David Luiz was one of the heartbreaking scenes after Germany’s semi-final routing of the hosts in the last

David Luiz | PTI

edition of the tournament. As Brazil ties the boots to avenge that bitter exit, David Luiz too deserved a place in the plans. But such emotional quotients are so far from football that even a Roberto Carlos free-kick can’t reach. Frictions with Conte, doubled by injuries handed the 31-year-old a fruitless year altogether in London while the competition was getting tougher at the national level. This was obvious, and we all saw it coming.

Fabinho, Brazil (RM)

Fabinho | AP

Fabinho’s ability to play any deeper midfield role and even defensive slides would have greatly helped the Canaries. However, the current boss Tite is yet to give him a chance in the yellow jersey even as veteran Dani Alves is out injured. Not having played enough football in home soil is reported to be the reason for keeping Liverpool’s young off his coach’s good book. Hopefully, just like Laporte, Fabinho too has many years ahead to forge his place in the national side.

Jack Wilshere, England (RCM)

Arguably the biggest omission from the English squad, Wilshere was vocal of his disappointment.

Jack Wilshere | AFP

Following the announcement of the final 23-man England squad, Wilshere tweeted: "It goes without saying that I'm naturally incredibly disappointed to have been left out of the England squad for the World Cup. I've felt fit, sharp and strong all season and believe I should be in the squad! And given the chance I could have made a real impact." Unlike out of favour Joe Hart or Daniel Sturridge, the 26-year-old had decent runs in recent times and was expected to make it to Southgate's final 23. 

Radja Nainggolan, Belgium (LCM)

Radja Nainggolan | AFP

Belgium is in Russia sans their most versatile central midfielder. Nainggolan was a crucial component of AS Roma’s Champions League wonder-run that included the demolition of a much superior Barcelona. The stout midfielder had earlier announced retirement following his omission from the squad. However, Roberto Martinez named him for friendly matches that followed, making him to revise the decision. But the Spanish manager left the entire country aghast when he named his provisional 27-man squad excluding Nainggolan. Leaving behind a midfielder who can orchestrate both pressing and holding games alike in the middle was no wise move, the question needed to be asked is,  how exactly Martinez plans to make up for having the red-devils leave behind such an expendable asset.

Leroy Sane, Germany (LM)

14 goals and 19 assists for the champions of England, the PFA Young Player of the Year Award and still

Leroy Sane | AFP

no pass to Russia! Welcome to Mane’s world… Perhaps he was unfortunate that his coach has such a vast pool of unbelievably talented players to choose from. The defending champions are the apostles of the power game and attacking mentality and things went in the favour of Julian Brandt ahead of Sane at the last turn before the finish. Perhaps the average performances in the German colours in recent times by the 22-year-old winger would have forced Loew to rule against him. Will the champs miss Sane’s stunning sprints and sharp crosses? Worth the wait.

Mauro Icardi, Argentina (FORWARD)

Mauro Icardi | AP

If you are a member of the "Leo Messi amigo circle" certain privileges are guaranteed in the white and blue shirt.  Icardi was no member of this group but both his Serie-A compatriots Dybala and Higuain were, and that made all the difference. No one can blame him for dreaming Russia after three brilliant seasons with Inter Milan. He found goals in plenty and finished the joint-top scorer of the league with 29 goals last season. Yet Sampaoli decided to go with the Juventus-duo instead of the 25-year-old, making many to raise an eyebrow. Tough luck pal.

Anthony Martial, France (FORWARD)

Just 18 starts this past season for United, the best chance Martial had was to get to play a super-sub in

Anthony Martial | AFP

Deschamps's squad. The arrival of Alexis Sanchez made things even harder, further cutting down his time on the field. 22-year-old Martial had shown how he can be a reliable replacement towards the final minutes of the game, but DD seemed not impressed. "There is strong competition. I consider Giroud, Griezmann, Mbappe and Fekir as axial strikers, even if they can play in other positions," the manager had no problems in making his plans open. Some might feel it was not fair to him, football is a game of steadfastness as much as it is of unpredictability.

Substitutes: Joe Hart (Eng, GK),  Marcos Alonso (ESP, Def),  Shkodran Mustafi (Ger, CM), Ruben Navas (Port, CM) and  Alvaro Morata (ESP, FW).

For some, it was to be the much-awaited launchpad to fame, for some others a rare arena to seal their reputation and for yet some others, the perfect stage for glorious swansong-performances.


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