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Those who stayed at home could have had a decent shot at winning the World Cup

27 June 2018
It is the dream of almost all professional footballers to compete for their country and fight for glory during the World Cup. Because only 23 players can travel to Russia, for some players this means watching the tournament at home.

Based on the EuroPlayerIndex and in cooperation with Dutch Football Magazine ElfVoetbal, Remiqz takes a look at the top players not present in Russia and compares their strength to some of the strongest teams of the World Cup.

Leroy Sané (Duitsland – Manchester City) – 4913

Based on EPI, the best player who’s not in Russia is Leroy Sané. Several German media outlets have suggested that Sané’s exclusion wasn’t entirely based on football reasons. Not bringing the pacey left-winger to Russia was even more awkward when Germany’s manager Joachim Löw changed his system in the second half against Sweden and had to play Timo Werner as a left winger.

Sergi Roberto (Spain – FC Barcelona) – 4764

Sergi Roberto is the last FC Barcelona player coming through the famous La Masia-academy and possesses good tactical and technical skills. Roberto is a metronome that can play right back, holding midfielder, central midfielder and even as a right-winger. The type of player you’d love to have on board during a long tournament in Russia. The fact that Álvaro Odriozola (who has an EPI of 2578) did make it in the final squad is strange, to say the least.

Karim Benzema (France – Real Madrid) – 4712

With the current crop of French attackers in Russia, the choice is already very hard. Bench Dembélé or Fékir? Put Giroud in as a pure striker or play Antoine Griezmann as a false 9? While critics and fans ponder over these questions, Karim Benzema sits at home watching Les Bleus on the television. With Benzema as a striker, who at his club is used to feeding attackers during counter attacks, France would have been unstoppable. Since 2015, Benzema does not play for France because of accusations of blackmail. One can only wonder how the tournaments of 2016 and 2018 would’ve been with him in the squad.

Alex Sandro (Brazil – Juventus) – 4640

If you are Brazilian and play as a left back, you have to be very good to start a game for your country. Real Madrid’s Marcelo (4982) has been Brazil’s starting left back for ages now, while Atlético Madrid’s Felipe Luís (4085) functions as a sturdy back-up. Alex Sandro would start for most of the countries present in Russia, but not for the Seleção.

Dani Alves (Brazil – Paris Saint-Germain) – 4552

Where the left wing-back position is very strongly occupied for Brazil, their right-hand side is not. They have one world class player in that position in Dani Alves (4552), who is unfortunately injured. Even though Alves is getting older and is not going up and down the wing for 90 minutes anymore, he is still a very skilled right back. Now Brazil’s manager Tite has to choose between Danilo (4113) and Fagner (2917), both are significant downgrades.

Competing against the strongest teams

If we take the 11 best players that are not going to Russia and take their average EPI, it is 4514. When compared to all the four top favourites for the World Cup, it turns out only Spain can beat the average EPI of the players who are left at home.

Average EPI predicted starting lineups:

  • Spain: De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta, Thiago; David Silva, Costa, Isco → 4687
  • Brazil: Alisson; Danilo, Miranda, Marquinhos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Douglas Costa; Coutinho, Jesus, Neymar → 4433
  • France: Lloris; Sidibé, Umtiti, Varane, Mendy; Kante, Pogba; Mbappe, Griezmann, Lemar; Giroud → 4352
  • Germany: Ter Stegen; Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Hector; Khedira, Kroos; Ozil, Muller, Reus; Werner → 4224