Many players unfortunately aren’t born in France or Germany. These players put their heart and soul out for a team that will never win silverware at international level. This list one be full of players such as Mkhitaryan or Aubameyang, are players who play for teams with no real quality. The players listed play for teams that always have a chance of qualification, with them being their countries best chance.
Emil Forsberg – Sweden
I will be rooting for Sweden in the World Cup (since my national team decided to not turn up against Ireland). My main reason for it is because of the amount of times they have proven their doubters wrong. Dick Advocaat famously said “Sweden will not beat Luxembourg 8-0.” Sweden later went to beat Luxembourg 8-0, proving to never underestimate them. When Sweden were later drawn against 4 time world cup winners Italy, everyone thought their dream would be over, but it wasn’t. Italy were underperforming throughout qualifying and Sweden did have a chance to beat a European elite, and they surprisingly did. Italy were very poor and deserved the defeat, but no one seemed to talk about how good Sweden were overall. They defended well and with a certain creator, Marcus Berg was able to score 8 goals in qualifying. But the creator I’m talking about is Emil Forsberg. Emil Forsberg topped the Bundesliga for assists last season. He was incredibly impressively, with almost every pass he made turning into a good chance for the other forwards. Even though he hasn’t been performing at the same level this season, he is still an incredibly talented player. When looking at a national team, the most important thing needed is plenty of service. While Berg did perform, Forsberg was behind him with 4 goals and 1 assist in qualifying. Berg will definitely be relied on for goals, but having another player, one with much more quality, will definitely help. He also completed 89% of his passes, proving how reliable he is on the ball. He will definitely need to go back to how he was in his first season in the Bundesliga. If Sweden have any chance of getting out of a group containing Mexico and the holders Germany, Forsberg will need to show the quality we all know he has.
Christian Pulisic – United States
Out of all the teams to miss out on going to Russia this summer, I was most upset about the US. Even though the state of their football at the moment isn’t great, having the Americans there is always a blessing. Whether it’s Clint Dempsey scoring a last minute goal against Algeria, or Tim Howard having one of the greatest goalkeeper performances of all time, they have been so memorable in the most recent world cups. It might be good for the US this time. Their academy system needs sorting out. The quality of player they are producing (The Prince aside) is not good enough for a country that size and with that much money pumped into it. MLS itself could be blamed as well. With no sort of relegation or promotion involved, it is impossible for teams to change at all if there is no punishment. When Germany were beaten by England in 1998, they decided to change their entire academy system, to win the world cup 16 years later, and they succeeded. Even more impressive, five of the starting eleven who won the final, such as Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Mats Hummel’s, Mezut Ozil and Marco Reus, all played in the youth team together. This was all planned out to succeed. Now Germany are easily the most stable national team on the planet. Anyways back to the US, they have had some good players in the past, such as Alexi Lallas, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey. But Christian Pulisic is the first player who has some real world class potential. Coming from the Dortmund academy, he is one of the youngest scorers in Bundesliga history, behind the likes of Nuri Sahin. He has developed so much since the young age of seventeen, that he’s even been linked to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich (of course). These links are justified. He has an incredible burst of pace, a brilliant touch and the skill to beat a man. Like all young players his decision making in front of goal could use some work. But overall he is the marks of a truly great player. He could be as good as the likes of Hazard, Sanchez or even Ribery. He just needs to to keep up his development and improve. He is by far the US’s most important player for years to come. He is used as more of a second striker, to make the most out of his skill set. Pulisic is their most talented player ever, and it is up to American Soccer to change the way they function, to add players of his quality to the side.
Christian Eriksen – Denmark
Like Sweden, Denmark had to go through the play offs to get to Russia. But unlike Sweden, they had a much easier opponent they were able to easily dispatch because of 2 factors. They had one of the best playmakers in Europe in Christian Eriksen, and they played an Ireland side with no real good players. Eriksen was one of the standout players in qualifying, and as I’ve mentioned previously, without a good creator you won’t be getting far in any international competition. Denmark possess the key to unlock any defence in Eriksen. The midfielder has become a very important player for Spurs over the years. Not only does he score for them, he is their sole creator. He is the only player in their squad is able to pick out a pass or find some good space between the midfield and defence. He’s continued these talents over to his national team, by scoring 11 and assisting 4. Three of those goals being against Ireland, a victory which sent Denmark to the World Cup. He’s has shown that he can turn it on in the most important occasions. What also helps is having players around him who actually do have a bit of quality. Players like Daniel Wass, Pioni Sisto, Jorgensen, Christiansen and Kasper Schmeical are all good players. The difference is Eriksen has that extra bit of quality that only the top players have. If Denmark do anything of substance in the summer, it will all be because of Eriksen.
Gareth Bale – Wales
As mentioned previously I was not so happy with my national team not making the world cup. Most of the blame for me comes down to Coleman. He kept playing the same 5-3-2 even when it was failing. I was begging for him to change it to a 4-2-3-1. It would give the side some actual width, while still leaving us defensively solid. And when he finally changed, we started winning again. But when it came to the final game against the Irish, a certain Madrid player wasn’t available so our quality in the final third was definitely limited. That’s what Bale offers us. I’ll be the first to admit that he hasn’t been brilliant for the team most of the time. But he is the only only player who has the pace, the power, and the quality to drag us through. I’ve already heard enough of Giggs saying he will try and make us into a more attacking team, which I think is possible. You play a 4-2-3-1, with a midfield of Joe Allen and Joe Ledley, Bale and Kanu/Lawrence on the wings, Ramsey in the 10 and Sam Vokes as the vocal point. I would like to see something along these lines being used. Many would play Bale as the 10 or the striker. But by doing that you’re limiting his actual quality, and making him move less. As a winger he likes to look for space, so using him as a striker just doesn’t work. If Giggs wants any success with Wales, he needs to make sure Bale is used to correctly, so we have a guaranteed option.