Ranking the Paris Saint-Germain Players on Their Likely World Cup Impact
Paris Saint-Germain will be one of the best-represented teams at this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. No fewer than 12 players are expected to feature in South America for their national teams, while a number of others could still be called up.
There will be at least one major PSG absentee at the tournament—Zlatan Ibrahimovic—after Sweden were eliminated in the qualifying play-offs by Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal. The talismanic striker would have been a key player for the Scandinavians if they had been there.
However, there are a few players from the French champions’ squad that look set to miss out.
Among those who will be in Brazil though, some are expected to play key roles for their respective sides, while others will be there in a squad role and might not even see any action on the pitch. With form an issue heading into the tournament, there could be some surprise standout performers come the end of the month-long event.
Here is a list ranking the PSG players on their likely World Cup impact.
Who Might Not Be Going?
While the majority of PSG’s first-team stars will likely be taken to the World Cup in Brazil, there are a number of players set to miss out for one reason or another.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his Sweden team fell foul of Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal at the end of last year. The 32-year-old will be a big miss this summer, although a thigh injury could rule him out for the rest of the season and could have jeopardised his tournament even if he had made it.
Javier Pastore is almost certain to be left out of Argentina’s final squad as he continues to struggle to live up to his hefty price tag in the French capital, despite a sublime solo goal in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg.
Lucas Moura is another who could miss out. The Brazilian has struggled to hold down a regular place in Laurent Blanc’s starting XI this season and is now in grave danger of missing out on a World Cup on home soil.
Central defender Alex has not featured for the Selecao since 2008, but he looks set to miss out for the hosts despite an impressive season with PSG. French international Jeremy Menez has also paid the ultimate price for his injury lay-off at the start of the season, as well as his capricious behaviour.
All five currently look like they will miss out on this summer’s big tournament.
One of the perennial back-up alternatives to first-choice Italian national-team goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, PSG’s Salvatore Sirigu will likely have to endure another quiet summer in Brazil.
Although an important part of the Azzurri squad and arguably the 36-year-old’s heir at international level, the PSG stopper does not look like getting his chance to add to his seven national-team caps anytime soon.
The Juventus legend will once again captain the side and it is difficult to see Sirigu being given a chance to impress, unless Buffon struggles with injury or gets suspended.
Likely to be one of the surprise inclusions in the hosts’ final squad for the tournament on home soil, PSG defender Marquinhos could get his first taste of World Cup football this summer.
The 19-year-old has enjoyed an encouraging start to life in Paris, faring particularly well in the French giants’ European campaign, but he is still yet to become a first-team regular at the Parc des Princes.
Marquinhos will probably serve as one of the backup options for Selecao captain Thiago Silva, seeing little in the way of real action. Just the experience of going to the tournament as part of the squad will benefit the teenage sensation though, as the former AS Roma man looks to add to his solitary senior cap in November.
A surprise call-up for Didier Deschamps’ France squad to face the Netherlands in a friendly at the Stade de France back in March, PSG’s talented left-back Lucas Digne looks as if he will travel to Brazil as part of les Bleus’ final squad.
There, he will likely serve as Patrice Evra’s understudy.
On the verge of finally usurping Maxwell as first-choice left-back at club level, the marauding 20-year-old has all the makings of becoming France’s long term left-back after this summer.
Despite only starting games intermittently for PSG this season, Digne has taken each opportunity he has been given to impress with both hands.
Although he might not feature more than fleetingly at the World Cup, expect the former Lille OSC man to be Deschamps’ first choice come the 2016 UEFA European Championship on home soil.
PSG’s experienced and reliable left-back Maxwell has shown unerring consistency since he joined the French giants back in 2012. That impressive stability for the Ligue 1 leaders was finally rewarded earlier this season when, at 32 years of age, he made his debut for Brazil’s senior side.
Since then, Maxwell has featured regularly in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Selecao friendly squads and looks set to go to the World Cup as Marcelo’s backup for the hosts.
If the former Ajax, Inter Milan and Barcelona man was to feature at the tournament, it would cap one of the most unlikely—but thoroughly deserved—success stories of recent international football for one of the game’s most underrated talents.
PSG’s precociously talented Italian midfielder Marco Verratti is another of the capital club’s stars who might have to make do with a watching brief for the majority of this summer’s tournament in Brazil.
The 21-year-old is already established as a key player for the French champions and has improved upon last season’s promising debut campaign under the leadership of coach Laurent Blanc.
Azzurri tactician Cesare Prandelli seems less convinced though and is yet to fully introduce the former Pescara man to the first-team fold.
Verratti’s excellent relationship with Thiago Motta would be a big plus for the four-time World Cup winners, but Prandelli’s reservations likely lie with the midfielder’s lack of discipline on the pitch.
Gregory Van Der Wiel
PSG’s Dutch international right-back Gregory van der Wiel made his first appearance for Oranje since their 2012 European Championship exit when the Netherlands took on France at the Stade de France back in March.
The 26-year-old had been due to link up with the squad in October, but was denied the chance then by a knee problem that has troubled him throughout the season. Tendonitis issues in his right knee have disrupted the end to Van der Wiel’s otherwise excellent campaign, but an international recall was fully deserved.
The former Ajax man is finally back in action though, despite having missed the recent UEFA Champions League quarterfinal double header against Chelsea, making appearances against Stade de Reims and Olympique Lyonnais.
Expect the PSG man to be Louis van Gaal’s first-choice right-back come this summer.
Since joining PSG from Newcastle United back in January, French international midfielder Yohan Cabaye has struggled to readapt to the rigours of Ligue 1 and finds himself on the outside looking in at club level.
For his country though, Cabaye is an important member of Didier Deschamps’ side and will likely feature heavily in Brazil this summer.
The 28-year-old can realistically have few complaints about finding himself behind Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi in the PSG pecking order, but increased involvement at club level would enable Cabaye and Matuidi to shine together in midfield for France at the World Cup.
2014 has been a mixed year for PSG’s Ezequiel Lavezzi so far.
The Argentine star was left devastated by the gruesome news that his uncle Jorge had been murdered in early February, but since then he has enjoyed a run of impressive form that has turned around what was a stalling career in the French capital.
El Pocho has seven Ligue 1 goals to his name this season, five of which have been scored since the turn of the year, plus another two in the Champions League and one in the Coupe de France. That form makes him a strong candidate for a starting berth with Argentina in this summer’s World Cup.
Alejandro Sabella has an embarrassment of riches in attack for la Albiceleste, but few are as energetic and hard working as the 28-year-old. Expect PSG’s Lavezzi to play a key role in any potential Argentine success in Brazil this summer.
Edinson Cavani’s debut campaign with PSG has been one of sharp contrasts so far. Brilliant in the first half of the season, el Matador has suffered since the start of 2014 and has only found the net in four of the French champions’ 13 domestic matches this calendar year.
The Uruguayan has struggled to step up in the absence of injured strike partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic and has been criticised for his poor performances in the Champions League, as well as his decision to openly criticise the club during a difficult season of adaptation.
Cavani is far from his best form at present and that will worry Uruguayan national team coach Oscar Tabarez, but it will not change the fact that the 27-year-old is one of la Celeste’s key players going into this summer’s tournament.
A rejuvenated Cavani could take Uruguay far in Brazil.
One of this season’s revelations for PSG has been Italian midfielder Thiago Motta.
Aside from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the 31-year-old has arguably been the capital club’s MVP this campaign and is now a key component for club and country.
After seeing his Euro 2012 final ended by injury, the Brazilian-born Italian has recovered well and has gone on to enjoy one of the most productive—not to mention injury-free—campaigns of his career.
Motta is now primed to make his mark in Brazil as one of the best players in his deep-lying role and will likely be an essential part of Cesare Prandelli’s Azzurri outfit in the tournament. The former Inter Milan and Barcelona man could be PSG’s star representative in South America this summer.
Although recently under-fire for conceding a sloppy penalty against Chelsea in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal, PSG’s Thiago Silva remains arguably the best defender in world football.
The 29-year-old will captain Brazil during the World Cup on home soil and is expected to lead by example throughout the tournament.
Perhaps not his best year—judging by his own high standards—it has still be a good campaign for Silva, who recovered from a thigh injury sustained against AS Monaco early in the season to lead PSG’s charge for a second successive Ligue 1 title.
Now almost there, the Selecao star will turn his attentions to international matters this summer and will no doubt expect to lead his team all the way to the final.
World Cup 2014 is shaping up to be massive moment for PSG’s star French international midfielder Blaise Matuidi. The 27-year-old is now an indispensable player for club and country and Didier Deschamps will be relying on the former AS Saint-Etienne man this summer.
Appearing in Brazil will cap a remarkable rise for Matuidi, having made himself an integral part of Carlo Ancelotti’s plans at the Parc des Princes before impressing the Italian’s successor Laurent Blanc this season.
The PSG man recently starred in the 2-0 friendly victory over the Netherlands at the Stade de France, scoring a sensational second goal with an acrobatic effort worthy of Parisian teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Les Bleus are expected to progress comfortably from their group in Brazil and Matuidi will be vital to any ambitions of going further than that in South America.
Along with Franck Ribery, Hugo Lloris, Raphael Varane and arguably Karim Benzema, Matuidi is one of the most important members of this current France side.