Jump directly to the content

Why some of the more surprising omissions won’t be going to the World Cup

From Radja Nainggolan to Alvaro Morata via Dimitri Payet and Jack Wilshere, none of these lot will be going to the 2018 World Cup

What do you have in common with Radja Nainggolan?

More than you thought after Belgium manager Roberto Martinez decided against including him in his 28-man World Cup squad.

Martinez claimed it was ‘purely tactical reasons’ that led to his decision, and that Nainggolan’s admission of enjoying the odd cigarette and a drink had nothing to do with it.

Whatever the reason, Nainggolan isn’t the only star to miss out.

DREAM TEAM WORLD CUP Click here to pre-register for this summer’s brilliant game


Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso can feel hard done by after scoring seven league goals from defence this season.

Jordi Alba was always going to start after winning the double with Barcelona so the decision to take Nacho Monreal instead boils down to the fact Alonso hasn’t played consistently in a back four since moving back to England.

On the opposite side of defence Sergi Roberto and Hector Bellerin miss out despite the former providing seven assists in La Liga.

Real Sociedad’s Alvaro Odriozola, the least capped outfield player in the squad, has experienced a rapid rise but will still only be in Russia as backup to Dani Carvajal and the versatile Cesar Azpilicueta.

Spain’s stacked midfield options mean Javi Martinez and Cesc Fabregas are left at home, while injuries have unsettled Alvaro Morata and Vitolo’s seasons.

On that note, if you want to feel violently ill then it’s worth comparing Spain’s midfield options to England’s.


Mario Gotze was the biggest casualty amongst the Germans. The 2014 World Cup winner was squeezed out by Marco Reus.

Reus missed out on the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championships so, even though he’ll probably tear England apart, we’re pleased to see him fit in time for a major tournament.

Sandro Wagner’s transformation from a starter at Hoffenheim to Robert Lewandowski’s sideman at Bayern Munich meant he didn’t make the cut.

He took it well though- instantly announcing his retirement from international football.

Emre Can also ran out of time, with injury denying him of any first-team football since mid-March.


Karim Benzema’s international exile continues but it’s difficult to see how Deschamps could have called on him after scoring just five league goals all season, two of which were penalties.

Deschamps has taken a chance on Man City’s Benjamin Mendy, although his hand was forced by Lucas Digne’s lack of football at Barcelona.

Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette have fallen foul of France’s attacking options in Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Nabil Fekir, Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar.

Florian Thauvin, the final member of the attacking unit, is a very different player from the one Newcastle fans might remember and is coming off the back of a 25-goal season with Marseille.

As for Dimitri Payet, a hamstring injury suffered in the Europa League final put an end to any hopes of starring in Russia as he did in Euro 2016.


Brazil manager Tite set his stall out very early in terms of who he was going to bring to Russia.

Fagner, Pedro Geromel and Taison might be unfamiliar names to most fans in Europe but they’re trusted by Tite which is all that counts.

That also explains why Juventus left-back Alex Sandro and Monaco’s Fabinho haven’t got the nod.

But it’s not all been smooth sailing for Tite. Dani Alves’ injury on the eve of the squad announcement has robbed him of his first-choice right-back.


We love to argue over football in England so it wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t a pub debate or two after Gareth Southgate named his squad.

Jack Wilshere is the biggest omission although Southgate would have been wary of his past troubles with injury.

Jonjo Shelvey is arguably the best passer of a football in England but his temperament has counted against him.

As for Joe Hart, it was one blooper too many for Southgate to trust.

Dream Team World Cup has landed!

The greatest show on Earth just got that bit more exciting.

That’s because the Dream Team World Cup game is coming ahead of this summer’s tournament.

Dream Team World Cup

Can Messi finally achieve glory internationally?

Getty Images - Getty
Can Messi finally achieve glory internationally?

The game officially launches on June 1but you can pre-register for the game now.

If you’re an existing Dream Team customer the World Cup game now appears in the app or you can enter here, but if you’re not follow these simple steps:

  • Download the Dream Team app
  • Create an account
  • Click on the World Cup banner below in the app and follow the pre-registration instructions

From Russia with a whole lot of love.