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With the 2010 World Cup almost upon us, the respective coaches of those nations set to do battle for global glory have all but finalised their plans.
They know who will and who will not be joining them in the trenches, with hours of consideration dedicated to making sure the right selection is made.
With only 23 seats on the plane to South Africa up for grabs, some tough decisions have had to be made.
At this point reputations count for little, with form, fitness and the ability to slot seamlessly into a meticulously prepared pre-tournament plan now the deciding factors.
Everyone has heard the tale of how Paul Gascoigne reacted to being dumped by Glenn Hoddle from his 1998 World Cup plans, but the England boss thought he had made the best call for the greater good.
Managers across the globe have been faced with a similar quandary this summer, with many having enough talent at their disposal to fill their squad twice over.
The time for talking is now over, though, and the final groupings have been pieced together.
Unfortunately for some, the phone call inviting them to join their countrymen in the quest for football's biggest prize never came and they are set to spend their summer watching the action unfold on the box like the rest of us.
Here skysports.com offers up a selection of those to have missed the cut, with this year's tournament set to take place without some of the game's brightest stars on show.
Brazil are hardly a nation lacking in creative talent, but the omission of Ronaldinho from their ranks has still come as something of a surprise. The buck-toothed playmaker may not have scaled the heights during his two years at AC Milan, but a return to form in 2009/10 suggested he was edging back towards his Barcelona best. National coach Dunga disagrees, though, and has opted to look elsewhere for attacking inspiration. Whether leaving out a two-time World Player of the Year proves to be the right decision remains to be seen.
Last season was arguably the best in Zanetti's distinguished career, yet a campaign which delivered so much joy has ended on a downer for the seasoned veteran. He must have thought that captaining Inter Milan to an unprecedented Treble would make him a shoo-in for a place in Diego Maradona's squad. It is never advisable to try and second guess Argentina's enigmatic coach, though, as he plays by his own rules. That approach has already been questioned by many, and leaving out the popular Zanetti - a man with 136 caps to his name - his unlikely to silence the detractors.
Another of Inter Milan's Argentine contingent to suffer World Cup heartache, it is difficult to explain what Maradona must have been thinking when he crossed Cambiasso off his list. Widely regarded as one of the finest holding midfielders in world football, the 29-year-old can consider himself hugely unfortunate to have missed out. Argentina will argue that in Javier Mascherano they have enough bite in midfield to hold their own, but as he did not have the best of seasons at Liverpool last year, while Cambiasso won a bucket load of trophies, would it not have been advisable to have plenty of other options waiting in the wings?
A lack of action over the past couple of years has seen Vieira crash from a lofty standing as captain of his national side to not even been selected in the squad. France coach Raymond Domenech had been hinting for some time that he would not pick Vieira purely on name alone and he has duly stuck to his guns. Yes, the energetic midfielder has won just about every major honour in the game, but if he is not fit then he is not much use. A switch to Manchester City in January was supposed to offer him an opportunity to prove his worth but, with injuries continuing to be a problem at Eastlands, Vieira has been forced to begrudgingly accept that his international ambitions may be over.
Domenech has shown no mercy in his selections this summer, with France culling more big names than most. Among those left behind to twiddle their thumbs is Arsenal winger Nasri. He was a casualty of the forward-thinking ranks, with France currently blessed with countless options in that department. The likes of Franck Ribery and Yoann Gourcuff were never going to be left out, while the end of season form of Chelsea's Florent Malouda made him virtually irreplaceable. With those factors taken into consideration, Nasri was left as the odd man out. He will be understandably disappointed to have missed out on such an occasion, but at 22 years old his time will come.
The third high-profile Frenchman to make our list, Benzema must be cursing his decision to join Real Madrid last summer. Before deciding to try his luck in the Spanish capital, the highly-rated frontman was one of Europe's hottest properties and widely tipped to become a global superstar. Still in his early twenties, Benzema was already an established international and was regarded as the man to help fire France to greater things in the future. How times change. Just 12 months on, Benzema has endured a turbulent season picking splinters out of his backside at the Bernabeu and has paid the ultimate price for his lack of action after failing to do enough to convince Domenech that he was worth a punt.
The Italy squad looking to defend their World Cup crown will be much changed from that which took the trophy in Germany four years ago. While there will still be a few familiar faces knocking around, it has been a case of out with the old and in with the new. One of those to be given the cold shoulder is flying full-back Grosso, who played such a staring role for Marcello Lippi in 2006. The Italy coach is renowned for his no-nonsense approach, though, and will not be swayed by events of the past. There is no room for sentiment in his squad and the axe will fall on anyone deemed surplus to requirement. Grosso, unfortunately for him, fits that bill and he must now turn his focus back to events at underperforming Juventus.
Toni was a late bloomer when it came to international football, but it appears his time in the sun may be up. Having been overlooked by Lippi it is unlikely he will ever grace the World Cup stage again. At 33 years old, and with numerous younger options breaking through, he may have been pushed into premature international retirement. If that proves to be the case, at least he bows out with his head held high. Toni did not make his debut for the Azzurri until 2004, but has racked up almost 50 appearances since then. Among his most memorable outings were those at the 2006 World Cup, where he helped Italy take the top prize for the first time in 24 years.
A player of Van Nistelrooy's undoubted ability deserves to have featured at more than one World Cup, but that is all he will have to show for his efforts when the time comes to hang up his boots. Another of those currently the wrong side of 30, time is fast running out on the fearsome frontman. He would have hoped to have been awarded an international swansong in South Africa this summer, having come out of international retirement to put himself in contention, but Bert van Marwijk has other ideas. A productive six months at German outfit Hamburg, having grown restless at Real Madrid, proved that he still has the ability to trouble the best defences in the business. His efforts have been in vain, though, and Holland will head to South Africa without a striker who can boast a strike ratio better than a goal every other game at this level.
It has not been a happy summer for holding midfielders, with the likes of Cambiasso and Vieira missing out on their respective squads. We can add to that list the name of Villarreal enforcer Senna, who was somewhat surprisingly cut by Spain boss Vicente del Bosque. For all of Spain's firepower going forward, they are equally adept at keeping things tight at the back, with a holding man often deployed in front of the back four. For years that job has been afforded to Senna, one of the most consistent and respected operators in that position. Fernando Torres and David Villa may have stolen the show as Spain secured European Championship glory in 2008, but Senna was an unsung hero in that side. He would have hoped to have been given the opportunity to add a World Cup winners' medal to his collection, with Spain strong favourites to go all the way in South Africa, but the Brazilian-born 33-year-old must make do with supporting his adopted nation from afar this time around.
The only reason Ronaldinho was dropped is because of his work ethic, apparently. Thats what Dunga says as all the other players tracked back and worked hard. Alright then, so Robinho and Elano did that! Brazil missed his flair and set pieces. England should of took Bent, he was miles better than Defoe, Crouch or Heskey all season; he may have had a better goal tally than all of them put together!
Posted 10:05 1st October 2010
im most shocked about the ommission of cambiasso and zanetti wot is maradonna thinkin? although it may come as good news for england cos if we come up against the argentines we'll hav 2 less world class players to worry about not all bad ay?
Posted 14:03 2nd June 2010
Why is everyone surprised with Benzema being left out???? He has had an absolute shocker for Real Madrid and is lacking a lot of confidence. Not really the type of player I would want in my team!! But Zanetti being left????? Maradona, Maradona, Maradona, what are you thinking. Even at the age of 37 he was one of the star Performers in the Champions League this season and should have been given one last chance to win the trophy missing from his collection and rap up the perfect season to maybe even retire on.
Posted 13:21 2nd June 2010
I Tought the biggest shock was leaving out Scott Parker. He practically carried westham last season. He should be in front of carrick everytime.
Posted 21:16 1st June 2010
I agree with comment about Viera and Ronaldinho past their time. they should let the new players come through
Posted 20:57 1st June 2010
Alright... i get all these these names not going World Cup.... Though i think its absolutely stupid for players like Zanetti, CAMBIASSO!!, Samir Nasri to not go..... What more... they havent meant ALEXANDRO PATO... who should definately should have a place
Posted 19:36 1st June 2010
I think coach Domenech made a big mistake by dropping nasri and louis Saha, also i think maradona has a bias mind for dropping Xavier Zanetti
Posted 18:27 1st June 2010
the most craziest decision here is probably cambiasso. it shows that maradona is nuts. i hope they go out in the first round and this might well happen. they played canada as a qualifier who arent even in the wc (i think) just to boost their confidence which shows how desperate they are. they have outstanding individuals but so have england over the past years and we havent done anything because our manager wasnt good enough (until now). cambiasso is a rock, he won everything at club level and would have been great for the team balance. he was mourinho's holding midfielder, just like makelele was - that tells you something.
Posted 17:42 1st June 2010
Ronaldinho is past it... he is good for 30 minutes and then disappears out of the game... so it is understandable that he has not been picked... Zanetti and Cambiasso will be gutted... this is why I have not included any Argentine players in my world cup fantasy football team... becos Maradona is a lunatic... Vieira hasn't played enough football and is too much of an injury risk to be included in the squad... Benzema is quality but has fallen into the void that is the Real Madrid bench... it happens to so many... when will they learn!!! Grosso and Toni haven't had the best of seasons and Italy always produces good players in all positions, it is unsurprising that they have not been included, Lippi is no fool. Van Nistelroooy well... see comments about Benzema...!!! and Senna just isn't good enough... i'm not sure what he is doing on this list to be fair... he seems a bit out of place... so in conclusion... pretty much all of them have not done enough to be at the world cup, managers that pick players on name alone never succeed... which is why very few managers do (apart form Sven Goran Erikson)... with the exception of Zanetti and Cambiasso who are victims of an evil joke... punchline of the joke will be unveiled at the world cup finals...
Posted 17:39 1st June 2010
I just failed to understand how could maradona ignore Zanetti. although he is 37yrs, he is the most fittest player in world football. rich experience n great skills of zanetti will be missed by viewers like me. see the role he played for inter milan this season. i am a big fan of maradona but i think he got it wrong while ignoring zanetti.
Posted 12:25 31st May 2010
I dont see what the fuss is about leaving Ronaldinho out. Last year Brazil easily won the Confed cup without his presence in the team. He was a great player,and had his time to shine.
Posted 12:18 31st May 2010
The omission of Alexandre Pato from Brazil's squad is far more surprising to me than that of Ronaldinho. Ronnie hasn't been performing like a top player for about 4 years now, he no longer has it. Pato could have been one of THE break-out players of the tournament. Very strange decision by Dunga.
Posted 12:05 31st May 2010
i cant believe france have left out benzema and nasri and viera out of the squad i think that is ridicules .
Posted 12:00 31st May 2010
dominech made the worst decision ever by leaving BENZEMA.
Posted 11:45 31st May 2010
Definitely leaving out Ronaldinho was a big mistake, in all fairness Kaka did not play as well but he got a seat on the plane. I think Dunga is being unreasonable, anyways good luck with the world cup campaign
Posted 11:43 31st May 2010
i think dunga have personal hated on ronaldihno he has no reason to drop ronaldihno and pick the likes of batista,ramires, klaberson ronaldihno is far beter than those three players
Posted 10:58 31st May 2010
In all fairness i think that what Dunga has done is admirable, simply due to the fact that Brazil has so much talent, and by continuing with the same big name players, he would be killing the development of the youth to progress to the world stage of football. Players like Ronaldinho and Viera have already had their time to shine and they have impressed, now it's time for the youngsters to shine. An excellent example of this would be the Ghanain side, their U20's won the world cup and now a whole lot of them are playing in the senior side... I wish i could say the same for my country, but unfortunately for us development in football is pathetic and riddled with corruption.
Posted 09:56 31st May 2010
no surprise with rudd being left out his carer went down when he left manchester united
Posted 09:52 31st May 2010
It really perplexes me to hear that some of football`s great and celebrated talent in Ronaldinho and Vieira were left out of their national squads even when they can still play better football. Dunga and Domenech should have thought twice or better still consulted the other stakeholders before making such bound blunders. Thank you.
Posted 09:50 31st May 2010
Viera and Senna were surely to be left out having barely featured this season. And surely it's about time for Lippi to blood new defenders, especially considering Grosso is the wrong side of 30, and is potentially facing players like Messi, Ronaldo, Lennon, etc; ie: players who would really test his pace! Similarly with Toni, he hasn't been in great form and is the wrong side of 30. Of more concern, I think, is the exclusion of Nasri, Mexes and Pato. Oh, and half the Argentine team, but that's quite explicable. Whilst one can argue that Ronaldinho could be a one-man Plan B from the bench, surely Pato could also add something to the squad? Fair enough, he was injured for the business part of the season, but he scored more for Milan, playing half the games of Nilmar! His pace and movement off the ball would surely augment the counter-attacking style Dunga has imposed. I understand that the strikers chosen are all in good form, with the exception of Robinho, so whilst it's an understandable decision, it would've been nice to see Pato at the World Cup. However, I cannot understand the decision to leave out Nasri and Mexes at all! Nasri would provide the perfect back-up to Gourcuff as a central midfielder with good vision and passing ability; as far as I can gauge, there are no other players of that ilk in the team! The fact that Nasri has covered competently for Fabregas when the latter has been injured should surely count in his favour! All other central midfielders are either too attack-minded or are defensive midfielders. An injury to Gourcuff would seriously cut the supply to the wingers and the forwards. Admittedly, I know very little about Valbuena, so maybe he can step in..? With Mexes, I have never understood his exclusion and never will. Has he not been one of the standout defenders at Roma for the past few seasons? I've tried to do my research before writing this, but may be wrong....
Posted 09:40 31st May 2010
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