Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Spain without Catalan players in 2010 World Cup Finals

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.   His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry of was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

Pedro, Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina, David Villa and Fernando Llorente 

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
Eric Cantona who was a French Catalan once said that the 2010 World Cup was won by Catalonia, not by Spain.  The topic of Catalonia and the 2010 World Cup Finals were well-covered.  So I decided to do a Spain without Catalan players and a Catalonia World Cup team for the 2010.

In total, La Roja had 7 players from Catalonia on their 2010 team.  So 16 players were not from there. The 16 players would be the based players for this team.  Spain's starting lineup at the World Cup Final against the Netherlands consisted of 6 players from Barcelona.  However, only four of them were Catalans.  Andres Iniesta and Pedro were not Catalan, but they played for Barcelona.  So 7 non-Catalan players actually started in the Final.  

Catalan players from the actual World Cup team
Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Carles Puyol, Joan Capdevila, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and Victor Valdes.
Replacement Players
Diego Lopez, Borja Valero, Bruno Soriano, Fernando Amorebieta, Nacho Monreal, Mikel Arteta and Antonio Lopez.
The forward line did not change from the real Spanish team in South Africa.  The defense, however, lost three starters and their main defensive midfielder.  Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos remained the only defensive starters on this team,  This might seriously hurt this Spanish side as they did win the World Cup with a strong defense.  They only conceded 2 goals in the entire tournament.  None of the two came during the knockout stage.  Iker Casillas saved a penalty against Paraguay.   By contrast, La Roja only scored eight goals in South Africa, the fewest by a World Cup winner.  In the knockout stage, they won all of the matches by a scoreline of 1-0.  So they should struggle against some teams.

F. Torres, A. Arbeloa, J.Navas, S. Ramos and R.Albiol 
GK: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid/Madrid)
Iker Casillas is Spain's most decorated goalkeeper and widely considered to be one of the greatest ever goalkeepers. He spent 16 seasons with Real Madrid and won three Champions' League with Real Madrid.  For Spain, he captained Spain into winning the World Cup in 2010 and two European Championships in 2008 and 2012.  He is capped over 150 times between 2000 and 2016, appearing in every major tournaments in that period. He also played for Porto at the end of his career.
Iker Casillas
GK: Pepe Reina (Liverpool/Madrid)
Pepe Reina first became a star at Villarreal when he helped the club to reach the Champions' league for the first time in history.  A year later, he joined Liverpool FC. At Liverpool FC, he won three Premier League Golden Glove. He was a part of Spain at World Cup 2010, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, but served as a backup to Iker Casillas.  His father was also a professional footballer who was capped 5 times for Spain.

GK: Diego Lopez (Villarreal/Galicia) 
Lopez started from Real Madrid, but made his name first with Villareal and Sevilla.  In January, 2013, he rejoined Real Madrid after Iker Casillas suffered a serious injury.  He quickly established as the starter.  He maintained his starting status the following year, despite the return of Casillas.  He won Copa Del Rey that season as the starter while backing up Casillas in the Champions' League as Real Madrid won it. Capped once in 2009.

RB: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid/Castile and León)
Alvaro Arbeloa started his career with Real Madrid, but he made a name with Liverpool in England before making a return to his mother club in 2009.  He helped Real Madrid to win their 10th European Cup in 2014.  For Spain, he was mainly used as a sub during Spain's glorious run at Euro 2008 and the World Cup in 2010, but he was their starting rightback at the 2012 European Championship.
CB/RB: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid/Andalusia)
Ramos was an important part of the all-conquering Spanish team that won the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships.  He is Spain's youngest player ever to receive his 100th caps. He has been named La Liga's Best Defender a record four times. In 2005, he joined Real Madrid as a teenager from Sevilla.  With Real Madrid, he won 4 Champions League. He scored the tying goal as Real Madrid won their 10th European Cup in 2014. At the time of writing, he is the captain of Real Madrid.
Sergio Ramos
CB: Fernando Amorebieta (Athletic Bilboa/Basque) 
He played most of his professional career with Athletic Bilbao, appearing in 253 official games over the course of eight La Liga seasons and scoring four goals. He also played for Fulham and Middlesbrough in England, Sporting Dijon in Spain and Independiente in Argentina. Internationally, Amorebieta played for Spain as a youth, but only allowed to switch to Venezuela at senior level in 2011 after a rule change by the FIFA. He had 15 caps and played in Copa America in 2015.

Raúl Albiol (Real Madrid/Valencian)
Albiol started with Valencia CF in 2004.  He joined Real Madrid in 2009, where he played until 2013.  From 2013 to 2019, he played for Napoli in Italy.  Then, he joined Villarreal, where he helped them to win Europa League in 2021.  From 2007 onward, he earned 56 caps for Spain.  He was a part of Spain's triple crown(Euro 2008 and 2012 and World Cup 2010), but he was an unused player in 2010 and 2012.  He also went to the 2014 World Cup Finals.

CB: Carlos Marchena (Villarreal/Andalusia)
Carlos Marchena played for Benfica, Sevilla, Valencia, Villareal and Deportivo La Coruna. His peak came with Valencia, where he won the Double in 2002-2003 season.  For the national team, he had 69 caps.  He was a starter at European Championship in 2008 where Spain won its first major trophy since 1964. He also played at Euro 2004 and two World Cup Finals.

CB: Nacho Monreal (Osasuna/Basque)
Nacho Monreal started playing with Osasuna in 2005, going on to appear in 144 official games over the course of five La Liga seasons. In 2011 he signed with Málaga and, two years later, joined Arsenal, winning three FA Cup trophies with the latter club. He also played for Real Sociedad. A full international between  2009 and 2018, Monreal represented Spain 22 times.  at the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup Finals.
Nacho Monreal
LB/RB: Antonio Lopez (Atletico Madrid/Valencian)
Antonio Lopez spent most of his professional career with Atlético Madrid, appearing in more than 300 official matches and winning four major titles, including two Europa League trophies between 2000 and 2012. In La Liga, he played for Osasuna and Mallocra.  Between 2005 and 2007, he was capped 16 times for Spain.  He played once at the 2006 World Cup Finals against Saudi Arabia.

DM: Bruno Soriano (Villarreal/Valencian)
Soriano was a product of Villarreal CF's youth system. He made his debut for the first team in 2006.  At the time of writing, he remained with the club.  He was known as the club;'s unsung hero throughout the years.  He even followed the club to Segunda Divsion.  For Spain, he earned 10 caps.  He made his national team debut in 2010.  He made it to the European Championship in 2016, his first major international tournaments.

CB/DM: Javi Martínez (Atletico Bilboa/Basque)
In 2006, Javi Martinez joined Atletico Bilboa.   In 2012, he signed with Bayern Munich for €40 million, going on to win seven consecutive Bundesliga titles as well as the 2013 Champions League. A Spain international since 2010, Martínez was a member of the squads that won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, and also played at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

CM: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid/Basque)
Xabi Alonso started with Real Sociedad.  He joined Liverpool in 2004 winning the Champions' League trophy in his first season.  In 2009, he moved to Real Madrid, winning the Champions' League again in 2014.  In 2014, he joined Bayern Munich. He was a key member of the Spanish team that won the World Cup and two European Championships.  His 114 caps make him the fifth most capped player in the nation's history.
Xabi Alonso
AM/CM: Mikel Arteta (Everton/Basque)
Arteta began his senior career at Barcelona in 1999 but limited playing time led to a loan to Paris Saint-Germain in 2001. He then signed for Rangers, winning the Scottish Premier League and Scottish League Cup double in his debut season. After a brief return to hometown club Real Sociedad, Arteta joined Everton on loan in 2005; he later signed permanently. He signed for Arsenal in 2011, where he won two FA Cups and served as captain from 2014 until his retirement in 2016.

AM/CM: Juan Mata (Valencia/Castile and León)
Juan Mata was a youth academy player for Real Madrid, but he started with Valencia in 2007.  From 2011 to 2014, he played for Chelsea, where he was a major star for the team.  After a fallout with Jose Mourinho, he moved to Manchester United.  Ironically, they would reunite again at Old Trafford. For Spain, he was a part of the team that won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship two years later.

AM/CM: Borja Valero (Villarreal/Madrid)
Borja Valero began his career with Real Madrid but did not have any impact with its first team, and played for Mallorca and in England for West Bromwich Albion before joining Villarreal in 2010 where he came a star. He also spent nine years in the Italian Serie A, with Fiorentina and Inter Milan.  He was on the Serie A Team of the Year for the 2011-2012 season. He was Spanish Player of the Year in 2010.  He was capped once for Spain in the same year.

CM/AM: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona/Castilla–La Mancha)
Andres Iniesta scored the World Cup winning goal in 2010 that gave Spain its first ever World Cup title. At Euro 2012, Iniesta led Spain to their second consecutive continental crown, again being chosen as the Man of the Match of the final against Italy, and was named the Player of the Tournament. He also won Champion' league trophies with Barcelona. He had over 130 caps for Spain from 2006 to 2018.
Andres Iniesta
RW: Jesus Navas  (Sevilla/Andalusia)
Jesus Navas played from 2003 to 2013 for his mother club, Sevilla FC. He won two UEFA Cup.  In 2013, he moved to Manchester City.  He returned to Seville in 2017. He earned 35 caps for Spain at the time of writing.  He was used as a sub during the World Cup Finals in 2010 and the European Champions in 2012, where Spain won both tournaments. Early in his career, he suffered from homesickness that limited his career playing outside of his hometown.

AM/RM: David Silva (Valencia/Canary Islands)
David Silva became a starter at Valencia in 2006 which forced Palbo Aimar to leave the club.  In 2010, he joined Manchester City helping the club to win their first Preimership in over 40 years. For Spain, he had over 120 caps from 2006 onward.  He was a key player throughout the period as Spain won the "triple crown": two European Championship and a World Cup.  He also represented Spain at every major tournament from 2008 onward.
David Silva
FW: Pedro (Barcelona/Canary Islands)
Pedro won 20 titles for Barcelona from 2008 to 2015.  In 2015, he joined Chelsea in the English Premier League, where he played until 2020.  He then joined AS Roma before joining Lazio.  He played 65 times for Spain. He was a part of the Spanish national team that won the World Cup in 2010. He again played for Spain at the European Championship in 2012 and 2016.

ST: David Villa (Valencia/Asturia)
David Villa is the all-time leading scorer for Spain.  He was known for a part of the Golden Generation for Spain, where Spain won three straight international titles: Euro 2008, the World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012. He was the Golden Boot winner at Euro 2008 and the Silver boot in the 2010 World Cup Finals.  He was best remembered for his club career with Valencia. He also played for Barcelona, Seville and New York City FC.
David Villa
ST: Fernando Llorente (Athethe Bilbao/Basque)
Nicknamed "El Rey León", Llorente was a product of Athletic Bilbao's academy.  He spent 8 seasons with the senior side.  The club reached the Final of UEFA Cup in 2012.  In 2013, he moved to Juventus.  He would win three straight Serie A title and reached the Champions' League Final in 2015.  He also played in England with Swansea and Tottenham Hotspurs. For Spain, he won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2012.  He was mainly used as a backup.6.
ST: Fernando Torres (Liverpool/Madrid)
Fernando Torres started his career with Atletico Madrid in 2001, where he became the captain at age 19. In 2007, he moved to Liverpool FC and became a big star in England.  In 2011, Chelsea allegedly broke the British transfer record to buy him.  He was a part of the Champions' league winning team in 2012.  For the national team, he was a part of the generation that won the World Cup in 2010 and two European Championships (2008 and 2012).  At Euro 2012, he was the top-scorer.
Fernando Torres
Player Pool
David De Gea, Andrés Palop, Andoni Iraola, Álvaro Domínguez, David Navarro, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Senna, Santi Cazorla, Daniel Guiza, Alvaro Negredo, Pablo Hernández, Sergio Canales, Apoño, Pedro leon, Jose Antonio, Reyes, Raul, Iker Muniain, Diego Capel, Albert Rier, Roberto Soldado, Bojan Krkic.
Squad Explanation
-- The 2010 World Cup winning team of Spain had 7 players from Catalonia. Coincidently, seven players were cut from Vicente Del Bosque's 30-man provisional team.  However, it was not as simple as exchanging seven Catalan players with another seven players from the provisional team.
-- I had no plan to drop any non-Catalan player from Vicente Del Bosque's original World Cup team.  So I started my team with 16 based players.
-- The seven Catalan players on the real team were Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Carles Puyol, Joan Capdevila, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and Victor Valdes. Capdevila and Fabregas did not play for Barcelona at the time of the World Cup, but Cesc came from their academy and would return to the club after the World Cup.  
-- There were also seven Barcelona players on the original Spanish team, but Pedro and Andres Iniesta were not Catalan.  Pedro was from the Canary Islands while Iniesta came from Castilla–La Mancha.  Iniesta played for the national team of Catalonia as a guest player.  But so did László Kubala, Hristo Stoichkov and Johan Cruyff. Lionel Messi was born in Argentina.  He moved to Spain and joined Barcelona as a 14 years old.  Iniesta went to Barcelona roughly around the same age while Pedro joined as a 17 years old.  If Messi played for Argentina, why could not Pedro or Iniesta?
-- The seven players who were cut from the provisional team were Diego Lopez, David De Gea, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Senna, Santi Cazorla, Daniel Guiza and Alvaro Negredo.  
-- Diego Lopez, Borja Valero, Bruno Soriano, Fernando Amorebieta, Nacho Monreal, Mikel Arteta and Antonio Lopez were the seven new players added to this team.  Diego Lopez was the only player on Vicente Del Bosque's provisional team.  Three of them came from Villarreal.
-- The team has six players from Basque.  They are Xabi Alonso, Fernando Amorebieta, Nacho Monreal, Mikel Arteta, Fernando Llorente and Javi Martínez.  
-- Iker Casillas, Borja Valero, Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina were born in Madrid.  Juan Mata and Alvaro Arbeloa came from Castile and León, and Andres Iniesta from Castile La Mancha.  Antonio Lopez, Raúl Albiol and Bruno Soriano were Valencians. Pedro and David Silva came from the Canary Islands.  Jesus Navas and Sergio Ramos went through Sevilla's academy together.  They came from Andalusia alongside Carlos Marchena.  David Villa would be the only Asturian on the team.
-- Three players played club football outside of Spain.  They all played for clubs based in Liverpool.  Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina played for Liverpool FC while Mikel Arteta came from Everton.  Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa also played for Liverpool before moving to Real Madrid in 2009.
-- Five players played for Real Madrid, and four for Villarreal. Three each came from Valencia and Athletic Bilbao.  Barcelona had two players. Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Osasuna all had one player each.
Casillas, Ramos, Arbeloa, Albiol and X.Alonso
-- Pepe Reina started with Barcelona's academy where his father was a former player, but he was not from Catalonia.   He was born in Madrid.  So he remained on this team. So I only had to replace Victor Valdes with a new goalkeeper.  
-- Vicente Del Bosque put both Diego Lopez and David De Gea in his 30-man provisional team.  So I only considered them for this team.
-- Diego Lopez was the only other goalkeeper capped by Spain in the year prior to the World Cup Finals.  He played 30 minutes against Macedonia on August, 2009.  He was also the third goalkeeper at the 2009 Confederation Cup.
-- David De Gea was only 19 years old in 2010.  He only made his first team debut in the 2009-2010 season.  He had about half of a season as a starting goalkeeper in first team football  So his time should come later.  I went with Diego Lopez who had more experience.
-- Andrés Palop was never capped before, but he was the third goalkeeper for Spain in Euro 2008 where he beat out Victor Valdes.  So he won an important national team medal without ever being an international player.  In 2010, he was still a top goalkeeper in La Liga, but I decided only to consider the two goalkeepers on the provisional team.
-- I needed to find two replacement central defenders for Carlos Puyol and Gerard Piqué, but unfortunately, not many central defenders were used by Spain around this period.  So I turned to Sergio Ramos. He started his career in Madrid as a central defender, but he was switched back to the rightback position after a season where he played in Sevilla prior joining Real Madrid.  In the 2009-2010 season, Real Madrid gradually moved him back to the center, but Del Bosque used him as a rightback throughout the World Cup Finals. However, in absence of Puyol and Pique, Ramos would be one of the best central defenders from Spain. So I would select him as one of my central defenders alongside Raul Albiol and Carlos Marchena.   Raul Albiol was mainly a starter in Madrid that season because Pepe was injured.  He sometimes partnered Ramos in the center.
Carlos Marchena and Nacho Monreal
-- For the last central defender, I looked into Fernando Amorebieta, Álvaro Domínguez and David Navarro.
-- Fernando Amorebieta was a top defender in La Liga.  Vicente Del Bosque called him up in 2008, but he did not play and remained uncapped for Spain.  In real life, he would switch to play for Venezuela in 2011, but in 2010, he was still eligible to play for Spain. Álvaro Domínguez turned 21 at the time of the World Cup Finals.  He was with the Under 21 national team.  In Atletico Madrid, he alternated between the leftback and centreback position that season.  Given that I might need an extra leftback, he was a great prospect for a spot on the team, but I did not know enough about him at that point in his career. David Navarro took the captaincy in Valencia that year, but it was not his best season.  He was also known for his rough play.  He tended to receive a lot of cards.  In 2007, he was given a lengthy ban for his role in the brawl between Valencia and Inter Milan.  Liked Amorebieta, he was called up by Del Bosque (after the 2010 World Cup Finals), but he never played for Spain. The team already had another rough player in Sergio Ramos.  So I had considered that as a factor in choosing the last centerback. Pablo Ibáñez did not play much the season with Atletico Madrid.  He had not played for Spain since 2008. In the end, I took Fernando Amorebieta. He was also the type of players who received a lot of cards, but David Navarro was rougher of the two. Amorebieta was remembered for his "kick" against Lionel Messi' face in 2009.  In the summer of 2010, Rubin Kazan also offered Athletic Bilbao 12 million euros for Amorebieta, but his club refused.  He was a very valuable player at the time.
-- Alvaro Arbeloa was a natural rightback, but he alternated between rightback and leftback position for both Real Madrid and Spain because of Sergio Ramos.  Cesar Azpilicueta was the only fullback on the provisional team who did not made it to the actual World Cup Finals.  In 2010, he was an uncapped player who would turn 21 on August, 2010.  Andoni Iraola was also on the players' pool at the time.  He played a few times for Spain in this period. Jesus Navas would later become a wingback at the end of his career.  In 2010, I do not know if he had ever played in this position.  But with both Arbeloa and Ramos on the team, I did not need another rightback.
Alvaro Arbeloa
-- Joan Capdevila was one of the most used players for Spain under Vicente Del Bosque. He was the only leftback on the actual World Cup team as well as on the provisional team.  Vicente Del Bosque probably planned to use Arbeloa as the backup in South Africa.   
 -- Nacho Monreal was the only leftback used by Spain between the summer of 2009 and the World Cup Finals in 2010.  He was capped twice in that period and was selected as a backup for many games.  He would be the idea choice for this team.  At that point, he was ahead of Jordi Alba who would eventually replace Capdevila.  Alba himself already started for Valencia, but he is a Catalan player.  Antonio Lopez had not played for Spain since 2007.  He was the backup to Argentine Mariano Pernía for a few seasons in Atletico Madrid. But in the 2009-2010 season, Pernia had a serious injury while Atletico Madrid was converting Alvar Domínguez into a central defender. So Antonio Lopez became the main starter for them. He also captained them as they won the 2010 Europa Cup.  Fernando Navarro was born in Barcelona, which made him ineligible. 
-- I had 6 defenders. Each defensive position actually had enough players to cover, but Nacho Monreal was the only natural leftback on the team.  Fernando Amorebieta and Alvaro Arbeloa needed to serve as the backup leftback.  So I took Antonio Lopez over rightback Cesar Azpilicueta. He could also play as a rightback. I overlooked the fact that he had not played for Spain since 2007. 
-- I needed to find a replacement for Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas.  
-- Marcos Senna was the only starter of the Euro 2008 Final team against Germany who did not make it to the real World Cup Finals. He was an important player for Spain in Euro 2008.  He did play in the World Cup Qualifiers. However, he would turn 34 in July, 2010.  His season was plagued with injuries.  His fitness level was in question around the period before the World Cup Finals.  Liked Senna, Santi Cazorla was on the Euro 2008 team.  He also played for Villarreal.  But he only started nine games for Villarreal that season due to injuries. Both were not fit.  So I did not select them even through they were on the provisional team.  Both were considered the big names being cut for the final selection.  Instead, I took Boja Valero and Bruno Soriano.
-- That season, Boja Valero won Don Balón Award for the best Spanish player in the Spanish League.  He was the most underrated playmaker of that generation.  In real life, he was only capped once, largely because he was playing in the same era as some of Spain's greatest midfielders.  Bruno Soriano finally established himself in Villarreal that season.  He would later become the unsung hero of Villarreal's successes in that period.  If Valero or Bruno were born in a different generation, they would be a household name in the world of football.  The pair was my undisputed selections for the replacements.
Bruno Soriano
-- David Albelda was reduced to a bench role in Valencia.  Valencia used Marchena as a defensive midfielder over him.  His captain armband was given to David Navarro who was also  in consideration for this team. 
--  The season was Francisco Yeste's last season in Athletic Bilbao.  He would move to play in UAE.  Joseba Etxeberria also retired at the end of the season. Xabi Prieto's Real Sociedad was playing in the lower division.  They gained promotion that season.  I did not know anything about him until after LaReal returned to the Top Flight. He was not considered for this team.  I also looked  at Apoño (Málaga),but I knew nothing of him.
-- The last midfield (actually the 23rd spot) position was between Pablo Hernández, Sergio Canales and Mikel Arteta.  
 -- Pablo Hernández was on the 2009 Confederation Cup team.  Only three players from that team did not make it to the World Cup Finals.  The other two were Dani Güiza and Santi Cazorla, but they were on the provisional team. Pablo Hernández earned 4 caps between 2009 and 2010.  For Valencia, his playing time seemed to have been reduced for reasons that I did not know.
-- Racing Santander's Sergio Canales emerged as a future star of Spain that year.  He started his first La Liga game for Racing Club Santander in December, 2009, where he scored 2 goals.  By January, he had scored 4 goals in 5 starts. In February of 2010, he was signed by Real Madrid for the following season.  He was hyped up by the media as a potential call up for the national team.  In 2010, I could not predict that he would suffer several serious injuries within the next few seasons and his career had many setbacks.  As of November, 2022, he only had a single cap and it happened in 2019.  In 2010, however, he was a serious candidate for the World Cup team.
-- In real life, Mikel Arteta was not given any chance with the Spanish national team.  He was uncapped at the senior level. However, without the Catalan players, he might have more chances with Spain.  He returned to the starting lineup in Everton in January, 2010 after out injured for a year.  According to various reports, his form was sensational after his return. He came from the youth ranks of Barcelona, but he was a Basque making him eligible for this team.
-- Ultimately, I went with Mikel Arteta.  Sergio Canales was too young in 2010 while I was not familiar with Pablo Hernández's status at that point.  Arteta in general was a more famous player.  However, my decision might have been influenced by the English media.  The Premiership players tended to get overrated by the English language sources.  It was believed that Arteta would have been selected by Spain in 2009, but an injury forced him out of the team. Meanwhile, Pablo Hernández received 4 caps during the period when Arteta was injured.
-- Pedro Leon helped Getafe to qualify for Europa Cup that season. He was awarded on one of La Liga Team of the Season selections, I found.  He was 23 years old.  In 2010, expectations were high for him.  But since I already had Jesus Navas, I left him off the squad.  Jesus Navas appeared in three matches in South Africa, including the last 30 minutes plus extra time in the final against the Netherlands. He won the best midfielder player award at the La Liga Award that year alongside Xavi. 
Jesus Navas
-- I pinpointed the left side of the team being weak.  I only carried a single leftback Nacho Monreal. I have decided to start the left midfielder position with either David Silva or Andres Iniesta.  I would have prefer a natural left winger on the team. Jose Antonio Reyes' peak years were with Arsenal around 2006.  However, his career rejuvenated that season.   He helped Atletico Madrid to win the Europa League and the Copa del Rey. In real life, he never recalled to  the national team in this period. Iker Muniain was a teenage sensational.  That season, he became the youngest player to score in a first division match when he scored against Real Valladolid at aged 16 years and 289 days.  But I was not going to use a spot for a fresh teenage boy.  Joan Verdú of Espanyol was born in Barcelona.  Diego Capel lost his starting position to Diego Perotti in Sevilla, but he was starting toward the end of the season.  He was 21 years old at the time of the World Cup.  He was playing mainly for the Under 21 team, but he already featured once in the World Cup Qualifiers in 2008 as a 20 years old. Albert Crusat of UD Almería had a great season, but he was also from Barcelona.  Albert Riera only played a few times for Liverpool that season. He had some issues with then Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.  So none of the left wing candidates seemed right.  So I stayed with an extra attack midfielder.
-- No Catalan player came from the forward position. Nevertheless, I did look at other forward for a possible replacement player. 
-- The season was Raul's last year with Real Madrid.  He only scored 7 goals that year.  His output was one of his lowest in his career.  I did not think it would be a good idea to bring him back to the national team.  His career would rejuvenate the season after with Schalke 04, but I could not "predict" the future in the summer of 2010. 
-- Roberto Soldado scored 18 goals in La Liga that season.  He was two goals ahead of Fernando Llorente and tied with Zlatan Ibrahimović who did not enjoy his season with Barcelona.  However, he was absent from the national team in this period.  Both Daniel Guiza and Alvaro Negredo were on the provisional team.  Bojan Krkic was only 20 years old.  He was still highly rated at that point. He scored 8 goals in the last 12 games of the season. But I did not see an urgent need for another forward.  I already had David Villa, Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente and Pedro.  The last and 23rd spot went to an attack midfielder (see the midfielder above).
Fernando Llorente and Pedro
This forward line had the same pool of players as the actual World Cup team in South Africa.  In South Africa, Vicente Del Bosque only started David Villa and Fernando Torres together three times.  In the Final or semi-final, Pedro was their starter.  In South Africa, David Silva only played in two games, starting the first game against Switzerland.  He was also a different type of midfielders as Xavi. In 2010, Sergio Ramos had not developed as a top central defender yet.  He played as the rightback in South Africa, but he started to play central defender in Madrid.  I reunited him with his club mates Raul Albiol who started many games because of Pepe's injury.  In Real Madrid, the pair played together with Alvaro Arbeloa.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Real Madrid's current and former players at 2022 World Cup Finals

 This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.   His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry of was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index

Real Madrid is the most successful club in soccer's history.  They have won more titles in Europe than any other clubs. Of course, they had plenty of good players.   I select a 26 member squad from the teams at the 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar.  All players must have appeared for Real Madrid at one point in their career.

The World Cup Finals are held from 20 November to 18 December 2022. This is the first World Cup to be held in the Arab world, and the second World Cup held entirely in Asia after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.

At the end of the World Cup, I will set a table for all players selected based on fantasy points.

Team(26 members)
GK: Thibaut Courtois (Beglium)
Thibaut Courtois joined Chelsea from Genk in 2011, but he was sent away to Atletico Madrid immediately.  He won the Europa League in his first season and then, a Copa del Rey in his second season.  In his final season, Atletico Madrid reached the Final of the Champions' League, but lost to Real Madrid.  He was the starting keeper for Belgium at World Cup 2014 and 2018, and Euro 2016.
Thibaut Courtois
GK: Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
After starting out at Saprissa Keylor Navas moved to Albacete in 2010, and then to Levante in La Liga.  After a great performance with Levante, he won the La Liga Keeper of the Year award for 2014 with Levante.  Then, he led Costa Rica to the quarter-final of the World Cup in Brazil.  After the World Cup Finals, he earned a transfer to Real Madrid.  With Real Madrid, he won three Champions League title as their starting keeper. He also played in the 2018 World Cup Finals.
Keylor Navas
GK: Alphonse Areola (France)
An academy graduate of PSG, he spent the early parts of his career on loan, enjoying spells with Lens, Bastia and La Liga side, Villarreal. During his stint with the latter, Areola broke the club record for the longest period of play without conceding a goal, remaining unbeaten for a period of 620. He also spent a season with Real Madrid. Since 2016, he has returned to PSG. He served as France's backup keeper at the 2018 World Cup Finals.
Alphonse Areola
RB: Dani Carvajal  (Spain)
Dani Carvajal went through Real Madrid's academy.  In 2012, he was sold to Bayer Leverkusen. In his only season there, he established himself among the best fullback in Bundesliga.  He returned to Real Madrid in a buyback clause. He was a contributor as Real Madrid won four Champions' League in his first 5 seasons.  At the time of writing, he is a member of the national team.  He played in the 2018 World Cup Finals.
Dani Carvajal 
RB: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco) 
Achraf Hakimi came through Real Madrid's youth academy, but he first made a name with Borussia Dortmund while on loan from Real Madrid.  He later played for Inter Milan for a season.  In 2021, he joined PSG in France.  He won the Lion d'Or African Footballer of the Year in 2019.  Born in Spain, he was eligible  to play for them, but he chose Morocco where his parents came from.  He played for them at the 2018 World Cup Finals.  
Achraf Hakimi 
CB: Eder Militao (Brazil)
Militão began his career at São Paulo, playing 57 matches over a span of two years before transferring to Porto. In 2019, after one season in Portugal, he joined Real Madrid for a reported transfer fee of €50 million. He won two La Liga titles, and the Champions League in 2022. Militão made his senior international debut for Brazil in 2018. He was part of their squads that won the Copa América in 2019 and came runners-up in 2021.
Eder Militao 
CB: Pepe (Portugal)
Born in Brazil, Pepe moved to Portugal playing for Maritimo.  In 2004, he moved to Porto while he established himself as one of the best defender in Portugal.  In 2007, he earned a dream move to Real Madrid.  At the time of writing, he won two Champions' league with them.  Although born in Brazil, he chose to represent Portugal.  At Euro 2016, he emerged as one of Portugal's best player as Portugal won their first ever international trophy.  He earned the Man of the Match in the Final against France.
CB: Antonio Rüdiger (Germany)
Antonio Rüdiger began his career at VfB Stuttgart.  In 2015 he joined Roma, He was signed by Chelsea in 2017, where he won the UEFA Europa League in his second season, and the Champions League in 2021. In 2022, Rüdiger signed for European champions Real Madrid. He made his international debut for Germany in May 2014.  He played in the 2018 World Cup, and later also took part at UEFA Euro 2020.
Antonio Rüdiger 
CB: Raphaël Varane (France)
Varane started with Lens. After one season with the French club, as a professional footballer, Varane joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2011. With Real Madrid, he won 3 Champions League in 4 years.  In 2012, he made his international debut.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 2014, where he was nominated as the Young Player of the Tournament.  He missed the 2016 European Championship through an injury.
Raphaël Varane
LB: Theo Hernandez (France)
Theo Hernandez joined Atlético Madrid's academy in 2007 where his father played. But after an loan move to Alaves in the 2016-2017 season, he joined rival Real Madrid in 2017. On 10 August 2018, he was loaned to Real Sociedad for a season.  In 2019, he joined AC Milan, where he finally made a name.  He earned his first French cap in 2021.  His brother Lucas played for Bayern Munich and was a part of the team that won the World Cup.
Theo Hernandez 
DM: Aurélien Tchouaméni (France)
Aurelien Tchouaméni made his first team debut for Bordeaux in 2018.  He joined AS Monaco in 2020, where he made a name.  He was named UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year for 2020–21 season. He was on the Team of the Season the following year. He was a top player in La Ligue. In 2022, he joined Real Madrid, where he displaced long time starter Casemiro.  In 2021, he earned his first cap for France.  He was eligible to play for Cameroon where his parents came from.
Aurélien Tchouaméni 
DM: Fabinho (Brazil)
After starting off at Fluminense, he transferred to Rio Ave in 2012. He spent his entire time there out on loan, first at Real Madrid Castilla, and made one substitute appearance for the first team. He spent five years at Monaco. In his debut season at Liverpool he won the UEFA Champions League. He won the UEFA Super Cup in 2019 and also played a key role in guiding Liverpool to the Premier League title in 2020, the club’s first league title in 30 years. Fabinho made his international debut for Brazil in 2015, and was part of their squads at the Copa América in 2015, 2016 and 2021.
DM: Casemiro (Brazil)
Casemiro started with Sao Paulo, where he played for three seasons.  In 2013, he joined Real Madrid B team(Castilla), where he would be eventually called to the first team.  For the 2014-2015, he was sent to Porto on a loan.  After a year, he returned to Real Madrid and quickly established as a major contributor as the club won three straight Champions' League.  He would win five Champions' League with the club. In 2022, he moved to Manchester United.  At the time of writing, he earned 32 caps.  He played in the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.
CM: Mateo Kovačić (Croatia)
Kovačić began his career with Dinamo Zagreb, before joining Inter Milan in 2013. In 2015, he moved to Real Madrid, where he won the 2015–16, 2016–17 and 2017–18 Champions Leagues. He joined Chelsea on one-year loan in 2018, signing permanently for them at the end of the season. With Chelsea, Kovačić won the 2018–19 Europa League and the 2020–21 Champions League, as well as the Chelsea Player of the Year after the 2019–20 season. He represented the nation at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, as well as the  Euro 2016 and 2020, reaching the final of the 2018 tournament. 
Mateo Kovačić
CM: Marcos Llorente (Spain)
Developed at Real Madrid, he appeared in 39 competitive matches over three seasons, also serving a loan at Alavés. He signed with Atlético Madrid in June 2019, winning La Liga in his second season while being deployed in several positions. Llorente made his full debut for Spain in 2020. He was part of the squads at UEFA Euro 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  His father Paco Llorente also played for Real Madrid.  His grand uncle was Francisco Gento.
Marcos Llorente 
AM/CM: Eduardo Camavinga (France)
Eduardo Camavinga joined Rennes' youth system when he was 11. He signed his first professional contract on 14 December 2018, at the age of 16 years and one month, becoming the youngest ever professional for the club.  He was also the youngest ever to play for them.  In 2021, he joined Real Madrid, where he won the Champions League in his first season.  In 2022, he earned his first senior cap for France.  He was selected for the 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar.
Eduardo Camavinga 
AM/CM: Luka Modric (Croatia)
Luka Modric is one of the greatest playmakers of his generation. He earned more 90 caps for Croatia.  He currently plays for Real Madrid and won the Champions' League for the 2013-2014,  2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons.  He also played with Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspurs.  He played in the World Cup Finals of 2006, 2014 and 2018, as well as the European Championship of 2008, 2012 and 2016.  He won Ballon D'or in 2018 after his performance in the World Cup Finals.
Luka Modric
AM/FW: Pablo Sarabia (Spain)
After playing youth football with Real Madrid, Sarabia went on to represent Getafe between 2011 and 2016 and Sevilla between 2016 and 2019 in La Liga, amassing totals of 232 matches and 36 goals over eight seasons. In July 2019, he signed with Paris Saint-Germain,  Sarabia was a former Spanish youth international. He made his senior debut in 2019, representing the side at Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup.  He scored two goals at Euro 2020.
Pablo Sarabia 
RW/CM: Federico Valverde (Uruguay)
Fede Valverde spent most of his youth career with Peñarol.  After a season with the first team, he joined Real Madrid's Academy in 2016.  For 2017-2018 season, he was sent on loan for Deportivo La Coruna.  He returned to Real Madrid in 2018 where he made a name.  For Uruguay, he made his senior debut in 2017.  He went to the 2021 Copa America.  He was named Silver Ball at the 2017 Under 20 World Cup.  He was known for his long range shot.
Federico Valverde 
RW/LW:  Gareth Bale (Wales)
Gareth Bale began his professional career at Southampton. Bale moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007. In 2011 and 2013, he was named PFA Players' Player of the Year.  His transfer to Real Madrid in 2013 was believed to be the most expensive in history.  He won four Champions League titles with Real Madrid.  He scored the winning goal in the 2014 version as well as two goals in 2018. He joined LAFC in the MLS.  In 2016, he led Wales to reach the semifinal of Euro 2016.
Gareth Bale
FW/RW: Marco Asensio (Spain)
Marco Asensio was born in Palma, Majorca, Balearic Islands to a Dutch mother and a Spanish father.  He was named after Marco Van Basten.  Asensio joined RCD Mallorca in 2006. He joined Real Madrid in 2014, but he spent his first season with Espanyol. He finally joined Real Madrid for the 2016-2017 season, scoring one of the goals at the Champions' League Final against Juventus that year. Since 2016, he has been capped by Spain.
Marco Asensio 
RW/FW: Ángel Di María (Argentina)
After beginning his career with Rosario Central, Di María moved to Europe in 2007 to play for Benfica, earning a €25 million move to Real Madrid three years later. He played a major role in the club's 2011–12 La Liga triumph. After winning the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid, he signed for Manchester United in 2014 for a British record £59.7 million, but joined PSG a year later for around £44 million. At the time of writing, he earned over 120 caps. He went to 2010,  2014 and 2018 World Cup Finals.
Ángel Di María 
LW/FW: Vinícius Júnior (Brazil)
Born in São Gonçalo, Vinícius began his professional career at Flamengo, where he made his senior debut in 2017, at age 16. Vinícius joined Real Madrid, for whom he signed for in a £38 million deal, which was a national record for an U-18 player. The transfer was made effective after his 18th birthday.  He scoring the winning goal in Real Madrid's 2022 UEFA Champions League Final.  In 2019, he made his debut with Brazil.
Vinícius Júnior 
FW/LW: Cristano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Ronaldo is one of the greatest forward of his generation.  He is the most expensive players in history from 2009-2013 when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid.  At the time of writing, he won the Ballon d'Or winner three times and won Champions' League titles with both Manchester United and Real Madrid.  In 2016, he helped Portugal to win the European Championship, a month after winning the Champions' League with Real Madrid.
Cristano Ronaldo
ST/RW/LW: Rodrygo (Brazil)
Born in Osasco, São Paulo, Rodrygo joined Santos' youth setup in 2011 at the age of ten.  In 2017, he made his first team debut at the age of 17.  In 2018, he signed for Real Madrid, where he would join in 2019.  He was a top young player in the world at the time. He scored many important goals as Real Madrid won the Champions' League in the 2021-2022 season.  In 2019, he made his national team debut with Brazil.  He was named to the 2022 World Cup team.
ST: Álvaro Morata (Spain)
Morata began his career at Real Madrid, making his debut with the senior team in late 2010, winning the 2014 Champions League. He moved to Juventus in 2014, winning the domestic double of Serie A and Coppa Italia in both of his seasons before being bought back for €30 million. With Real, Morata won another La Liga and Champions League before joining Chelsea in 2017.  He also played for Atletico Madrid. Since 2014, he was capped by Spain and went to Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018.
Álvaro Morata 
Other Players
Eden Hazard, Takefusa Kubo, Luka Jovic.

Squad Explanation
-- Only players selected for the World Cup Finals are eligible.
-- I am including all players who had appeared for the first team in Real Madrid.  Actually, I was going to include Castilla players who never appeared for the first team, but no player fit the credential. Takefusa Kubo did not play for Real Madrid's first team in any official games, but he had played in the preseason. However, he was not selected.  He also did not come from Castilla.
--  Casemiro (Brazil), Achraf Hakimi (Morocco) Dani Carvajal  (Spain), Fabinho (Brazil), Marco Llorente (Spain) and Alvaro Morata (Spain) came from Castilla.  Rodrygo did play for them, but I did not consider him as an academy player.  He only dropped to the reserve team for a few games in his first season.  He was mainly a first team player from his first day in Madrid.
-- The World Cup squad for the 2022 World Cup Finals consists 26 players. This team had 13 each for current and former players.
--  Brazil had 6 Real Madrid-related players, but only five was selected.  France also had six on their team, but only three are currently with Real Madrid. Spain only had four players.  Only three are current players.
-- Angel Di Maria left in 2014.  He held the longest gap of a departed player on this team.
-- Only three goalkeepers ever played for Real Madrid were going to the World Cup Finals.  
-- Thibaut Courtois joined Real Madrid in 2018, where he replaced Keylor Navas in the starting lineup.  Navas was a star of the team for a few seasons.  He was named on the Champions' League team of the Year the season before.  Courtois won the Golden Glove at the 2018  World Cup Finals before he transferred to Madrid.
-- Alphonse Areola was on loan for PSG for the 2019-2020 season.  He was a part of the deal that saw Keylor Navas going to the other way.  He was predominantly used as a back-up option to first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.   He appeared 9 times for Real Madrid.
-- Andriy Lunin would have made he Ukraine national team if they qualified.  They went to the World Cup playoff, but failed to secure a spot in the Finals.
-- At the time of writing, I don't know how Brazil's coach Tite will line Eder Militao.  Brazil also featured Thiago Silva and Marquinhos. Thiago Silva probably will start, but he is 38 years old.  So many pundits expected Eder Militao to have an important role in Qatar.  He might be a rightback as Brazil lacks a strong player in that position.  He had played there in Porto where he lined up next to Pepe.  Tite could also start three central defenders. 
-- Antonio Rüdiger will be a starter for Germany, but I am not sure about Pepe.  He is now 39.  Raphaël Varane suffered an injury in October.  He was actually a surprise inclusion for France because of his injury.  His form in Manchester United was also in question prior to his injury, but I did not have another alternative.
--  Danilo might actually start for Brazil depending how Tite started Militao.  Brazil's rightback position is weak. They even selected Dani Alvas who is now 39 playing in Mexico.  But the rightback position for this "Real Madrid" team is strong.  Both Dani Carvajal and Achraf Hakimi are among the best rightbacks in the world.  So I left off Danilo who did not enjoy his time in Real Madrid.
-- Ferland Mendy was surprising left for France's World Cup team.  That left Theo Hernandez as the only leftback on this team.  Mendy was a more defensive-oriented type of a fullback.  Didier Deschamps probably preferred an offensive wingback.  Mendy only had 9 caps at the time of the World Cup selections while Theo had 7.  Gareth Bale played as a leftback in the beginning of his career in England would be my emergency backup (please see later for Bale' inclusion).
-- David Alaba would have solved the weakness in the leftback and central defender position if Austria qualified for the World Cup Finals.
-- I carried three defensive midfielders.  They are Aurélien Tchouaméni, Casemiro and Fabinho.  The signing of Aurélien Tchouaméni this past summer allowed Real Madrid to sell Casemiro. He proved to be a player to reckon with in Madrid. Casemiro's performance in Manchester had mixed reviews, but how could I drop him?.  
-- Fabinho was only on loan in Madrid, but he played a few games for the first team.  So he is eligible for this team.  I might need an extra defensive midfielders since I had question marks over both Pepe and Varane.  Pepe is 38 years old while Varane is injured at the time of writing.  I selected Fabinho over Takefusa Kubo who never played in an official game for the club.
-- Toni Kroos retired from the national team.  This team would like to have this deep lying playmaker.
-- I was upset when Real Madrid sold Marcos Llorente to Atletico Madrid, but Federico Valverde proved to be a better player.  Most people would disagree with me.  I found the two players similar, but Fede is better.  This season, his long range shots (or goals) are the best in the world.  He is probably one of the best players this season in Madrid.
-- Eduardo Camavinga regressed this season, but I still see him as one of the brightest young midfielders in the game.  Luka Modric is of course evergreen.  I also took Mateo Kovačić. They kept Takefusa Kubo off the team.
-- Federico Valverde had played well on the right wing. Then, I also took Ángel Di María and Marco Asensio.  Gareth Bale scored the 120th minute equaliser in the MLS Cup Final for LAFC, but his season had been poor in the MLS.  I was not going to take him, but his goal in the MLS Final proved that he was a big game player.  Besides, he had played as a leftback where I only had Theo on the team.
-- Vinícius Júnior owned the left wing position, but the team lacked a backup left winger.   So Asensio and Rodrygo would be my emergency backup.  Rodrygo could play across all three positions up front.  He is a natural left wing forward, but he is not given much chance in Madrid because of Vinicius Junior.  And we could forget about Eden Hazard.  
-- I already mentioned Marco Asensio, Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo.   
-- Cristiano Ronaldo's relationship with Manchester United is well-documented.  He has not been featured regularly for them, but I just could not ignore him.
-- At the time of writing, Álvaro Morata is second top scorer in La Liga with 5 goals.
-- At the time of writing, Karim Benzema just suffered a thigh injury that would keep him out of the World Cup Finals.  I had to edit him out of this team. Luka Jovic and Pablo Sarabia are the only other possible choices.  Eden Hazard was also mentioned in the "wing" section.  He had not played much this season. Jovic's performance in Serie A had been poor.  I do not really know much about Pablo Sarabia, but he became my only choices. 

This is a weaker version of Real Madrid's starting lineup for the 2022-2023 season.  Benzema would have been the starter, but he is out with an injury.  I start Ronaldo because I cannot leave him on the bench.