With World Cup 2014 rapidly approaching, there have been some players who are not regulars for their national teams who have impressed this season and have set their respective leagues alight. The reason for them not being regulars for their nations vary from their age or simply due to the quality that their national teams already possess. With the form these players have been displaying this season, it is hard to believe that their national coaches can continue to overlook them, as they may help these nations in winning the ultimate prize, the World Cup.
Here are 4 world-class players who warrant places on their national team in this summer’s World Cup:
1. Spain: Thiago Alcantara
Spain, the world champions, have won an impressive 3 international competitions in a row: Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, and Euro 2012. They won these titles with identical squads, which has added to the squad chemistry and is one of the reasons why they are so good.
One player whose performances at club level warrant a place in the squad for the World Cup is Thiago Alcantara. The quality Spain possesses in midfield is well documented. With world class central midfielders such as Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Javi Martinez and Xabi Alonso as definite contenders for starting spots and almost certain to go to the World Cup, Thiago may have to compete with Atletico Madrid’s Koke and Mario Suarez; Real Madrid’s Isco; and Manchester City’s Javi Garcia for the final spot as a central midfield player. While it may help Thiago that players such as Andres Iniesta, Santi Cazorla, David Silva, Jesus Navas and Pedro operate in wide areas for Spain and Cesc Fabregas may play up front as a false nine, the competition he faces is still of high quality.
Thiago’s performances for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and Champions League have been consistently top class and he has been a vital cog in the Bavarian machine. Perhaps the highlight of his season was when he broke two records during Bayern’s 5-0 win over Frankfurt, having 185 touches and making 159 passes. The Italian-born Spanish player, of Brazilian descent, has truly come of age this season and deserves a place in Spain’s squad in their quest to retain the World Cup.
2. Brazil: Roberto Firmino
Brazil must be considered heavy favorites along with Spain for the 2014 World Cup despite being ranked 6th in the world rankings. While the fact that they are the hosts makes them favorites, they also play very good football and have improved since the last World Cup. They intend to prove that their Confederations Cup win versus Spain, in the final, was no fluke. While Scolari has stated that he already knows his 23 man squad, there are uncapped players whose performances have made them deserving of a place.
One of these is Roberto Firmino. The Hoffenheim playmaker has exploded onto the scene this season with a series of great performances in the Bundesliga; scoring some great goals and dazzling viewers with sublime pieces of skill. An attacking midfield position in the Brazilian national team may be the hardest to earn. Oscar of Chelsea almost surely has the starting berth and players such as Lucas, Bernard and William are players who Scolari seems to favor. Firmino’s performances this season make him more than deserving of a World Cup spot. But with Scolari opting not to select him for the warm up friendlies before the World Cup, a first call up to the host’s squad seems unlikely for the player who has scored 14 and assisted 10 in the Bundesliga this season. Luckily, he is only 22 years of age and can establish himself as a part of the Brazil national team set up in the future.
3. Germany: Andre Hahn
With 3 World Cup victories, 4 time runners-up and 4 times third place, Germany are one of the most consistent nations in the World Cup. Germany will be hoping to win their first World Cup since 1990 this year. A player who could very well help them achieve this is one virtually unknown outside the Bundesliga.
Andre Hahn is a 23 year old winger who signed for FC Augsburg in January 2013 from Kickers Offenbach, in the third tier in Germany. His pace and finishing are his greatest assets and are the reasons why he has scored 10 goals and assisted 5. While he has not received any caps for Germany as yet, he was called up for their recent friendly versus Chile, showing how impressive his performances have been this season. Hahn is currently having a better individual season than some of the regulars in his position for Germany, such as Julian Draxler and Andre Schurrle. While this may not necessarily result in him displacing them for a World Cup spot, it will certainly have Joachim Low seriously consider having him on the plane to Brazil to help Germany remove their “perennial underachievers” tag.
4. Italy: Ciro Immobile
While ranked only 9th in the world, the Euro 2012 finalists usually save their best form for major tournaments, the last World Cup aside. The strikeforce of Italy is certainly not bad with the likes of Mario Balotelli, Pablo Osvaldo, Mattia Destro and Alberto Gillardino. But out of all these names, perhaps the one most deserving of a World Cup spot is the least known.
Ciro Immobile, 24 years old, of Torino has scored 20 goals in 30 Serie A matches this season and is currently at the top of the Serie A scoring charts. Italy coach Cesar Prandelli has recently revealed that he has 18 names in mind for his World Cup squad. Only Prandelli himself knows whether or not Immobile is in this 18 or if he must prove himself more to earn a place in the last 5. His form, however, warrants a place and if he keeps this up he may very well, and should, be at the World Cup in Brazil and help Italy challenge for their 5th World Cup title.