Even better than the real thing?

Hadi Zogheib

Following Tuesday’s announcements of preliminary squads for World Cup teams, there is no doubt anger from various couch potato managers around the globe. Some are unhappy with players who were included, while other will be upset by the rejects, a talented group now set for a summer stuck at home. In honour of all those armchair managers who think they know best, I’ve come up with a list of the 23 top World Cup rejects:


Sebestian Frey (France – Fiorentina): A model of consistency, one of Serie A’s best keepers year in and out

Diego Lopez (Spain – Villareal): Usually Spain’s number 3, was usurped by Barca’s Victor Valdes this year. Would be a number 1 or 2 on most national teams.

Andres Palop (Spain – Sevilla): Is it me or does Spain have way too many great keepers? Must be something in the water.

A superb season with Inter wasn’t enough to get Zanetti to South Africa.


Javier Zanetti (Argentina – Inter): Far and away the biggest shock of all. Having an unbelievable season. Is arguably the most consistent performer on one of Europe’s best teams.

Gary Neville (England – Manchester United): Not the most popular player in England, but his experience would be invaluable in the biggest tournament on Earth.

Nicola Legrottaglie (Italy- Juventus): A victim of numbers. Italy has many great defenders and there was no room for him. Not a bad reserve on my team, though.

Gabriel Milito (Argentina – Barcelona): Coming back from a horrific spate of injuries that sidelined him for months, is back to his best form. A mistake by Maradona to omit one of Messi’s best buddies.

Joleon Lescott (England – Manchester City): Again, the result of being the odd man out on a team with too many good defenders. Strong and good in the air.

Marco Materazzi (Italy – Inter): Who else is going to complement the opposing star’s sister?


Samir Nasri (France – Arsenal):Great in possession. Can play either on the wing or in the middle.

Esteban Cambiasso (Argentina – Inter): Was much better all season than Maradona’s captain, Javier Mascherano. Deserves to be in South Africa.

Diego (Brazil – Juventus): Creative midfielder would be on any other squad except Brazil’s.

Ever Banega (Argentina – Valencia): Young, fast, can tackle, pass, and shoot. One of Valencia’s stars this season.

Francesco Totti (Italy – Roma): Can play up front or just behind the forwards. Just too talented to be omitted by Lippi.

Mikel Arteta  (Spain – Everton): Once again, the victim of coming from a country that is so deep in talent. Would walk onto most squads in the world.

Owen Hargreaves (England – Manchester United): We had to include one Canadian, didn’t we?

Two-time Player of the Year Ronaldhino isn’t wanted by Brazil.


Pato (Brazil – AC Milan): One of the best in Europe. Didn’t fit with coach Dunga’s system.

Lisandro Lopez (Argentina – Lyon): Voted France’s best club player this year. Far more consistent than Ezequiel Lavezzi, who Maradona chose instead.

Ronaldinho (Brazil – AC Milan): Two-time World Player of the Year is another victim of Dunga’s counterattacking system.

Antonio Cassano (Italy – Sampdoria): One of Italy’s most talented players, but a controversial figure in the locker room.

Karim Benzema (France – Real Madrid): Incredible talent, but judged to have not received enough playing time to garner a call up.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Netherlands – Hamburg): Maybe a little old, but would be great coming off the bench in the final ten minutes when his team needs a goal.

Fabrizio Miccoli (Italy – Palermo): Nineteen goals for Palermo this season. Never stops running.

Starting eleven:


Neville, Lescott , Milito, Zanetti

Arteta, Cambiasso, Banega


Benzema, Lopez


Filed under World Cup

2 responses to “Even better than the real thing?

  1. Kev

    Maradonna is just not right in the head. We should get Gascoigne to manage the England side and then we could have a real battle of wits.

  2. Adam

    In 2006, only Jose Pekerman’s ‘genius’ stood between Argentina and the World Cup.

    In 2010, it looks like Maradona will fulfill the Pekerman role.

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