Ten players who missed the cut, but have had been very important in the success of their teams this season.
* Víctor Valdés (Barcelona)
Yes, he is on route to his third straight Zamora trophy but, how much is that his merit and how much just a consequence of playing in the best team of the world.
Valdés is definitely a very good keeper, but his impact seems minimal compared to other member of the Blaugrana squad.
* Ricardo (Osasuna)
The veteran goalkeeper has spent most of his career helping low tier teams to avoid relegation and this is not the exception.
However, at age 39, he is having one of the best seasons of his career, being a key factor to make Los Rojillos the fifth best defense in the First Division.
* Diego Alves (Almería)
Almería will probably play the next season in the Second Division and Diego Alves is the reason we still say “probably”.
Yes, he has conceded 16 goals in three games against Barcelona, but the entire squad was a disaster in those matches.
He has several suitors and will play for a much bigger team in 2011-12.
* Eric Abidal (Barcelona)
Don’t get me wrong: Abidal is probably one of the three best left-backs in the world and was a solid contributor for Los Culés this season.
However, I don’t see him as essential in Barcelona’s first XI. He does very well in the left side, but Dani Alves does more in the right.
He has also provided depth as central defender when needed, but also did Sergio Busquets—who also missed the cut, by the way.
We’ll get to see if I’m wrong now that he will miss the rest of the season due to a liver tumor. Hopefully he will be back for the next tournament.
* Gerard Piqué (Barcelona)
Shakira’s boyfriend is in the same boat of Valdés and Abidal for this ranking. He is a great player, one of the best in his position, but Barcelona can survive with him.
Carles Puyol is still the leader in that defense.
* Parejo (Getafe)
In his first season with the third team from Madrid, the youngster was a key factor in last year’s sixth place, which allowed Los Azulones to play this season in the Europa League.
This time Getafe is not doing that well, but at least they seem safe from relegation.
Sadly for Parejo, Real Madrid is expected to execute the buy-back option they have on him, so he will probably join Pedro León in the bench of Los Merengues for the next season.
* Mesut Özil and Ángel di María (Real Madrid)
The two newcomers quickly fit in Jose Mourinho’s scheme and never seemed to feel the pressure of wearing the Merengue shirt.
Their good performances have made Kaka’s absence unnoticeable and the only reason they didn’t make the cut is the fact that their impact is overshadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo’s impressive season.
* Santi Cazorla (Villarreal)
An injury prevented him from being part of the Spanish squad in South Africa 2010, but he has bounced back from that sad moment with a terrific season.
Villarreal’s midfield has been impressive this season and Cazorla has been a constant menace for rival defenses from the right side.
* Javi Martínez (Athletic de Bilbao)
The Basque anchorman has been a regular in Athletic’s starting XI since joining the squad for the 2006-07 season. A rock in the midfield and a big threat in corner and free kicks, he was part of the 2010 World Champion Squad and it’s just matter of time to see him in a top tier European side. He is only 22-year old, so we can expect him to be a regular for La Furia Roja in the next decade.