The Best XI not at the World Cup

With hours left of the qualifying campaigns it looked like the best player in the world (Messi) and one of his competitors (Ronaldo) wouldn’t be at the World Cup. But, El Diego scraped it for the Argies, and Portugal beat Bosnia in a play-off, so we get the whole media circus surrounding those two.

But we don’t get it all. There are some incredibly talented players missing from the World Cup, and I’ve tried to put them all together. Whether this is the best XI in South Africa or not will be determined by factors such as can Spain fit Raul’s walking frame on a plane, does Dunga despise a certain goofy ex-player of the year or not and can Maradona forgive Kun Aguero for cheating on then divorcing the daughter and grandson’s of God. First of all, a list of some serious competitors for any team in the world.

  • Sweden: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Bosnia: Zvjezdan Missimovic, Edin Dzeko
  • African: Seydou Keita (Mali), Mouhamed Nagy ‘Gedo’ (Egypt), Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo)
  • Croatia: Luke Modric, Zedran Corluka, Darijo Srna, Eduardo, Ivica Olic
  • Russia: Andrei Arshavin, Yuri Zhrikov
  • Bulgaria: Dimitar Berbatov
  • Czech Republic: Peter Cech, Tomas Rosicky
  • Belgium: Thomas Vermaelen
  • Ireland: Shay Given
  • Turkey: Arda Turan
  • Romania: Christian Chivu, Adrian Mutu
  • Finland: Samii Hypia

That’s probably not a perfect list by far, so go ahead and tell me what I’ve done wrong. Here we go then; I’ve tried to pick the best XI, and then pick the best formation for them.

The best team not at the World Cup

Yes, I know that the 5-3-2 has become gradually obsolete since the turn of the century, and I also know that the Trequartista playing ‘in the hole’ has become out-moded, but it does fit this team perfectly. I should also add that in theory there is no reason this formation shouldn’t still work, so long as the opposition plays a flat 4-4-2, and doesn’t play too heavily with wingers; two increasingly unlikely conditions.

With arguably the two best wing backs in the world and a great sweeper, I couldn’t play a flat back four. It’s important that the three central defenders are suited to the roles, and although centre-back is probably this teams weakest area, they all fit the bill perfectly. Corluka and Vermaelen are both talented centre-backs, who can drift out to cover at full back. Meanwhile, Chivu is naturally a sweeper, but never plays there for Inter Milan.

Srna and Zhirkov are brilliant in every sense of the word.

The central pairing are the anchor of the team. Sure, neither of these will get in a world XI, but they make a great substitutes for those who would. Modric plays the Xavi role, creating from deep. Keita must fit into a slightly unnatural defensive role, but I’m sure he’ll survive well, especially with a sweeper as cover.

The attacking three are sublime, talented, showy, egotistical and World Class. Is Ibra the third best in the world? Is Adebayor barely worse than him? Is Arashavin one of the top 5 in the Premier League? Yes, yes and yes.

This is certainly a brilliant team, and I really feel I’ve nailed this one. But go on, tell me what I’ve down wrong, and tell me what you’d do. I’ll then tell you why my team beats yours.

Oli, this article’s author, is the founder and writer of; the number one fan blog about Barnsley FC.

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