Ranking the 10 Best Non-World Cup Players in La Liga
Tons of stars from the Spanish league were on display at this summer’s World Cup, but surprisingly there were many others who were absent from the spectacle in Brazil.
In this article we will rank the top 10 current La Liga players that were not at the World Cup, based on their performances last season.
Because this ranking only includes current La Liga stars, players like Ander Herrera and Filipe Luis, who would be on the list, are excluded because they have left the league to join clubs outside of Spain.
As always, feel free to get involved in the discussion in the comments section below and tell us who is in your top 10!
* All player statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com
No. 10: Bruno
Bruno Soriano is a Villarreal legend having spent his entire life at the Spanish club. His leadership cannot be overstated, and he rarely has an off night.
Last season, the midfielder put in a masterful campaign, scoring six goals and giving two assists, while also controlling the middle of the park. His ability to dominate the midfield and keep possession makes him invaluable for the Yellow Submarine.
Had Bruno been a part of the Spain squad, La Roja may have had more coverage at the back, but we will never know what could have been.
No. 9: Mateo Musacchio
Mateo Musacchio was one of the best defenders in Spain last year, helping Villarreal make an average of 22 tackles per game, one of the best numbers in La Liga.
Truth be told, Musacchio is one of the best pure center backs in Spain and shows it on a regular basis. He has a keen sense for reading the game and is one of the strongest tacklers around. At only 23, his potential is extraordinary.
Due to his exceptional form last season, it is not surprising that he has been linked with a move to Tottenham, according to Ben Hayward of Goal.com.
It was surprising that Musacchio was snubbed from the Argentina squad. With the South Americans having a questionable defense, bringing the Villarreal star along would have been a very wise move.
No. 8: Federico Fazio
Like Musacchio, Sevilla’s Federico Fazio was absolutely stellar last season. The 27-year-old center back helped Sevilla lift the Europa League trophy and was a rock in the back line.
With Musacchio out of the picture, Fazio looked certain to be heading to Brazil this summer, but it didn’t happen. The idea of the La Liga duo pairing up in defense was a wonderful thought, but it didn't happen.
Fazio’s season was so good that he was even named in the La Liga Team of the Year by Goal.com. His snub was highly questionable, and Argentina would be wise to not make that mistake again.
No. 7: Carlos Vela
In the ongoing saga of Carlos Vela’s tainted relationship with Mexico, the Real Sociedad star was not a part of the World Cup squad. Had he been there, El Tri may have been able to go a bit further in Brazil.
Over the last few years, Vela has terrorized La Liga defenders with his ability to score goals and create chances. His speed and ability on the ball made stopping La Real’s attack extremely difficult, and one has to wonder how he would have fared at the World Cup.
The 25-year-old netted 16 times last season while also assisting 12 times. His dominance up front is unquestionable, and his future is very bright.
No. 6: Isco
After his high-profile move to Real Madrid last summer, Isco did not feature as much as fans had expected. However, that didn’t stop him from scoring eight goals and giving six assists in league play.
Isco had been a staple in Spain’s youth side for a few years and was expected to be on the plane to Brazil. Manager Vicente del Bosque also seemed to be a big fan of the former Malaga star, but his name was not called for the squad.
Regardless, Isco’s talent is immense. The 22-year-old can dribble, pass and score goals with ease. He still has a long career in front of him, though it will be interesting to see just how many minutes he gets with Real Madrid this year.
No. 5: Tiago
Atletico Madrid’s Tiago retired from the Portugal National Team a few years ago, but fans can only wonder what he could have brought this summer had he been available.
The 33-year-old may have age working against him, but that didn’t keep him from putting in a solid year to help Atletico claim the La Liga title. His pairing with Gabi gave Los Colchoneros a menacing midfield, and opponents rarely had an answer for them.
Tiago is exceptional at winning the ball back and is always harassing opponents who are looking to attack. Though he has retired from international play, he is exactly what the Portuguese needed in Brazil to give the team balance.
No. 4: Aymeric Laporte
Arguably the very best center back in La Liga last season, Aymeric Laporte deserved to be in the France World Cup squad. At 20 years old, it makes sense that Didier Deschamps wanted to play it safe, but Laporte could have offered so much to Les Bleus.
The Athletic Club Bilbao starlet made a name for himself this season by being one of the most fearsome tacklers in Spain, while also possessing a wonderful passing game as well.
Laporte had several big games last year as he helped Los Leones to their best season in over a decade, earning a spot in the Champions League.
It was no surprise that bigger clubs soon came calling for Laporte. He immediately signed a revised contract in early June to raise his release clause to €42 million, only a few months after renewing until 2018, according to Inside Spanish Football.
No. 3: Gabi
As stated earlier, Gabi’s partnership with Tiago gave Atletico Madrid an immense advantage over almost every opponent. The midfield tandem led the club to the La Liga title and put in a masterclass effort every week.
Gabi may be 31 years old, but he fully deserved to be wearing the La Roja shirt in Brazil.
A true defensive midfielder, Gabi possesses all the qualities needed to lock down the middle of the park. He reads the game well and makes a lot of interceptions, though he can also win tackles if needed. Had he been in Brazil, maybe things would have gone differently.
Gabi’s snub was questionable. Vicente del Bosque clearly wanted to utilize a squad he was more comfortable with, and Spain paid the price.
No. 2: Ander Iturraspe
Ander Iturraspe was easily the breakout player of the La Liga season last campaign. The 25-year-old was far-and-away the most valuable defensive midfielder in the league, and it paid dividends for Athletic Club.
Every time Iturraspe was on the pitch the Basques were able to stand toe-to-toe with anyone in Spain. When he was absent, the loss was visible in Athletic’s performance.
Iturraspe was named in Del Bosque’s 30-man roster for the World Cup but eventually missed out on the final cut. It was a testament to a wonderful year, though his snub was just as odd as Gabi’s.
Spain struggled to deal with attacking threats in Brazil, and Iturraspe was the type of player who could have provided defensive coverage. Again, we will never know what could have happened if he was in the squad, but he deserved the call for sure.
No. 1: Gareth Bale
There is little debate over the top spot in this list. With Wales not competing at the World Cup, Gareth Bale did not compete at the prestigious tournament.
Of all the players in Spain that did not go to Brazil this summer, Bale tops them all. The world’s most expensive player scored 15 league goals for Real Madrid last season and played an integral role in the capture of the 10th Champions League title in club history.
Bale did it all for Real Madrid last season, and his absence from the World Cup was sad. A player of his quality deserves to play in the biggest tournaments.
Who is in your top 10? Should anyone on this list be replaced? Leave your thoughts and comments below!