Player Focus: The Best Players Not Selected for the World Cup

With the announcement of every national squad ahead of this summer's World Cup, we have been ceremoniously presented on social media with the players considered most unfortunate to miss out.

With the announcement of every national squad ahead of this summer's World Cup, we have been ceremoniously presented on social media with the players considered most unfortunate to miss out. Brazil's current strength in depth was exhibited to the masses with an unbelievably impressive starting XI of players who failed to make the grade for Luis Felipe Scolari, and that team was in-turn pitted against Germany's equally astounding second-string.

There were always going to be plenty of talented players missing out on places in Brazil, and the main gripe amongst England fans in Roy Hodgson's squad selections was his decision to leave an ageing but undoubtedly still useful Ashley Cole at home. On form this season, though, few can question the England manager's choice; Luke Shaw and Leighton Baines have simply played more consistently throughout the campaign. Based on performances this season, there will be a fair few other notable absentees in South America this summer, as our rating system can highlight.

After a promising start to the season saw them reach the winter break in third place in the Bundesliga, Borussia Mönchengladbach fell by the wayside, dropping down to a sixth-placed finish come this month's end to the season. A 6-match winning streak across October, November and December was the high-point in a mixed campaign in which their strike partnership of Max Kruse and Raffael shone.

Together, they scored 27 of their side's 59 Bundesliga goals and also provided 16 assists. Though it may well have been the combination of the two that proved so fruitful, both can still count themselves unfortunate to be spending their summers on holiday rather than with their respective national teams in Brazil.

German Kruse missed out on Joachim Löwe's 30-man squad despite only two out-and-out strikers in 35-year-old Miroslav Klose and youngster Kevin Volland being included. Kruse scored more goals (12) and provided more assists (9) in league games this season than either of those selected, but it may be that his inferior ability in the air has affected his chances, winning just 0.9 aerial duels per game compared to Klose's 2.6 and Volland's 1.7.

Raffael, meanwhile, at 29, may be considered too much of a gamble with no previous international experience, but that he has missed out to the likes of Fred and Jô will come as a real blow. Fred might have been the joint-top scorer at last year's Confederations Cup, but has made only 14 league appearances for Fluminense in the 11 months since. Jô, meanwhile, has yet to score in the Brasileirão this season and netted only 6 goals from 44 attempts (13.6%) in 21 appearances in the 2013 campaign. Raffael, who scored his 15 goals at a significantly better conversion rate (20.3%) and also provides tricks with 4.9 dribbles per game in an unquestionably superior league, will rightly feel aggrieved to have missed out.

Gladbach teammate Marc-André ter Stegen yesterday completed his move to Barcelona, but questions still remain about his pedigree on the international stage. While he registered the third best rating (7.19) of all goalkeepers in Europe's top five leagues this season - and the best of those not to be called up - he infamously conceded five goals on his international debut before being omitted from the Euro 2012 squad, and he shipped seven more goals in his next two caps. Only Aston Villa's Brad Guzan (98) successfully claimed more crosses this season than Ter Stegen (88), who certainly continued to show signs that he is ready to make the step up.

One more Gladbach player makes our 'Best Not Selected XI', with Tony Jantschke proving that Germany's quality in the right-back spot is amongst the best around. There is little usurping Philipp Lahm in that position, but Jantschke could still count himself unfortunate to miss out. His 90.1% pass success rate made him the only non-Bayern player in the top eight in this regard in the Bundesliga this season, while he also made a combined average of 10.2 tackles, interceptions and clearances per game.

Over at Hoffenheim, Roberto Firmino was the highest Brazilian goalscorer in the top five European leagues this season, striking 16 times from his attacking midfield berth, and at 22 years of age has potential in abundance but was still overlooked by Scolari for this summer. He also registered as many assists (11) as Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the likes of Paulinho and Oscar, who both had rather uneventful seasons, have been preferred.

Gabi has been something of a late developer, but having returned to Atlético Madrid in 2011, he has grown into a fine deep-lying playmaker, captaining the side to an unlikely Primera title and potential Champions League trophy too. With the amount of quality in Spain's midfield, it is little surprise Gabi failed to nudge the likes of Xavi or Xabi Alonso out, but there is an argument to say he should have. Xavi is now 34 years of age and his tally of just two assists this season was by some distance his lowest in recent league campaigns, and suggestions he is on the slide might just have some backing.

Gabi, meanwhile, provided 8 assists, including the all-important equaliser at the Nou Camp this weekend, and also played more forward passes (984) than any other player in Europe's top five leagues this season, despite attempting over 500 fewer passes in total than that man Xavi. The Barçelona legend unquestionably retains vast quality, but there is also something to say for a need for change and passing on the mantle.

Loïc Perrin and Naldo both enjoyed solid seasons at centre-back and having been preferred by their respective national managers by others who arguably did not perform to their level this term, may have reason to be upset. Perrin was the highest-rated centre-back in Europe this season (7.73) and Naldo was the second-highest in the Bundesliga (7.58), with both excelling particularly in the air, winning 71.6% and 71.8% of their aerial battles, respectively.

Santiago Garcia has enjoyed a fantastic breakthrough season at Werder Bremen but it was not considered enough to made it into Argentina's provisional squad, while Daniel Baier played his way into the Bundesliga team of the season but not into the Germany squad, and Jeremy Toulalan extends his four-year absence from the France squad despite an impressive debut season in Monaco.

Brazil's World Cup will be a spectacle to behold with or without these players, but each of them could feel as though they couldn't have done much more to gain a place at the tournament.

Who do you think is the most notable absentee from the World Cup squads? Let us know in the comments below?

All statistics courtesy of where you can find yet more stats and player ratings.

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