The final World Cup 2014 squads: who's missed out?

By Francis Whittaker of IES | MATT SULLIVAN/Reuters
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Landon Donovan (USA)

The most surprising exclusions from the squads head to this summer's World Cup in Brazil See Gallery

Coaches have submitted their final 23-man World Cup squads to FIFA, and there have been some surprising omissions across the world of big-name players who were fit enough for selection.

USA’s record goalscorer Landon Donavon is perhaps the biggest. The Los Angeles Galaxy attacking midfielder has 57 goals for his country, but was dropped by manager Jürgen Klinsmann in favour of striker Jozy Altidore – who managed just two goals for Sunderland last season.

Rumours in the press have suggested Klinsmann feels the attacker has lacked commitment of late, and that the younger strikers may now offer more than the 32-year-old. That said, it still appears to be a huge risk to leave out such a reliable source of goals, considering no specialist forward has scored for the USA at the World Cup since 2002.

For more of the biggest players who are not injured but have been ommitted from the final squads, click or swipe through the images.

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Ashley Cole (England)

England’s stalwart left-back Ashley Cole is another shock exclusion. Thirty-three-year-old Cole had been one of the first names on the England team sheet for well over a decade since making his international debut in 2001.

However, he has not been a regular in the Chelsea side this season, which has helped Everton’s in-form Leighton Baines make the England left back berth his own. The emergence of exciting, 18-year-old Southampton prospect Luke Shaw confirmed Cole’s consignment to the international scrap heap, with the former Arsenal man announcing his retirement from the England team upon his omission after 107 appearances.

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Carlos Tevez (Argentina)

Argentina have an embarrassment of riches in attack. Although Lionel Messi is certain to make the starting XI in Brazil, mercurial talents such as Sergio Agüero, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuaín are far from guaranteed of a starting place in Brazil this summer. Despite this, it is still perhaps surprising that Juventus forward Carlos Tevez hasn’t made coach Alejandro Sabella’s list.

Although he hasn’t played for the national side since 2011, the former Manchester City striker has been in prolific form for Juventus this season, netting the Turin club 19 goals.  His performances in Serie A have been so strong that Tevez fans even took to the streets of Buenos Aires to protest against his exclusion.

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Fernando Llorente (Spain)

With the number of high-quality Spanish players available to manager Vincente del Bosque, there were always going to be a few surprising omissions from La Roja’s final 23-man squad. That said, it’s perhaps still a shock that Juventus striker Fernando Llorente failed to make the cut. The 29-year-old struck 16 goals in Serie A this season to help the Turin club take their third consecutive title. His absence, along with that of fellow forward Álvaro Negredo of Manchester City, seems even stranger considering the injury problems of included striker Diego Costa and the questionable form of Fernando Torres.

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko;
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Jesús Navas (Spain)

Likewise, Manchester City winger Jesús Navas is the unfortunate midfielder to miss out in a hugely talented field. The wide man, who won the Premier League title in his first season at Manchester City, was part of the World Cup-winning squad in 2010. However, a five-game injury absence at the end of the season has scuppered his chances of adding another winner’s medal to his collection.

Sang Tan/AP Photo
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Giuseppe Rossi (Italy)

Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi must endure the pain of failing to make a third-straight major tournament after being cut from coach Cesare Prandelli’s final squad – despite proving his fitness last month.

The 27-year-old top scored for Fiorentina last season with 16 goals, but suffered a third-major right knee injury which forced him to miss the last four months of the campaign.

However, after returning to training in May, he started in Italy’s goaless draw with the Republic of Ireland, though his failure to impact on the game ended his chances of heading to Brazil with the Azzurri.

REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang
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Kengo Nakamura (Japan)

Kengo Nakamura was selected for the stand-by list for Japan's World Cup squad, but the decision by manager Alberto Zaccheroni to leave the experienced midfielder out of the main squad has surprised many in Japan.

A J-League regular Nakuamura, 33, has over 350 appearances to his name for Kawasaki Frontale, as well as 68 caps for Japan. Nakamura was part of Japan's squad that travelled to the last World Cup in South Africa, although he did not play in that tournament. Many thought that Nakamura's experience would be useful to the Japanese squad in Brazil.

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Samir Nasri (France)

Even though playmaker Samir Nasri has been pulling the strings in Manchester City’s Premier League-winning midfield this season, he has been denied the opportunity to do the same for his country in Brazil this summer by France coach Didier Deschamps.

His exclusion may come as a surprise to fans, but apparently not to the player himself. Prior to the squad announcement, Nasri told Canal+: ”I think the dye is cast. I respect [Deschamps'] choice. I’ll watch the World Cup on TV. If starting games in a club like Manchester City and winning two titles isn’t enough, too bad, I won’t regret anything”.

It is thought that Deschamps feels Nasri has the potential to cause divisions in the French camp, and wouldn’t take well to being left out of the starting XI.

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Isco (Spain)

Having won the coveted Golden Boy award in 2012, Isco announced his arrival on the big stage in style at the start of the 2013/4 season. Having signed for Real Madrid from Málaga in June, he scored one and set up another on his debut in a 2-1 victory against Real Betis.

Things haven’t gone quite as well as he may have hoped since then, however. With Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Ángel Di María in scintillating form this season, Isco has struggled to find a role that suits in the Madrid team.

His exclusion from the final Spain squad remains a surprise though: a technically gifted game-changer with youth on his side, many would like to have seen him given a chance in Brazil, particularly with the likes of Cesc Fàbregas, Juan Mata, Pedro and Santi Cazorla all enduring below-par seasons.

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Lucas Neill (Australia)

The decision by Australia coach Ange Postecoglou to leave experienced defender Lucas Neill out of his World Cup squad was certainly the most controversial made by the Socceroos boss.

Neill had played over 60 games as captain of Australia and had featured regularly in the team's qualification campaign for Brazil. But after back-to-back 6-0 defeats in friendlies for the Aussies in 2013, Neill came under scrutiny from fans and media alike. Coach Holger Osieck was sacked and many believed Neill should also be shown the door. Then after being dropped by two Middle Eastern clubs, Al Jazira Club and Al Wasl FC, Neill tried to find another club, signing first for English side Watford and then going on loan to Doncaster. Postecoglou ultimately decided that Neill had not played enough games to make the squad, admitting "it's a decision that weighs heavily on me".

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Mario Gomez (Germany)

While Germany coach Joachim Löw has kept the faith in 35-year-old World Cup goal-machine Miroslav Klose, another of his attacking regulars hasn't been quite so lucky.

Fiorentina forward Mario Gomez and has had a difficult season in Serie A – playing just nine games and scoring three goals. However, his record with the national side is impressive, having netted 25 times in 59 games, and many would have expected him to have been in with a shot of leading the line for Die Mannschaft in Brazil.

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
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Lee Myung-joo (South Korea)

There were not too many surprises in South Korea coach, Hong Myung-bo's, squad but the exclusion Lee Myung-joo was considered one.

In 2012 Lee was named "Rookie of the Year" in the K-League and has followed that up with two further excellent seasons. He is widely considered to be the best Korean player in the domestic league, but that was not enough to make the squad. His place has been taken by Sunderland midfielder Ki Sung-yeung, but there are question marks over Ki's form and fitness, which makes Lee's exclusion all the more surprising.

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Lucas Moura (Brazil)

It’s perhaps not surprising that Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has long excluded the likes of thirtysomething former household names Kaká and Ronaldinho from his Seleção. The pair are long past their best, and he has instead preferred to choose a more dynamic, younger squad since re-taking the reins of the national team in 2012.

This policy makes the omission of Paris St-Germain’s 21-year-old winger Lucas Moura from his 23-man World Cup squad all the more surprising, after his exciting performances for the French champions this season have seen him create more goals-per-minute than anyone else in Ligue 1.

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Diego López (Spain)

One of the biggest debates among Real Madrid fans this season has been who should play in goal: much-decorated club and national team captain Iker Casillas or the in-form Diego López. Los Blancos coach Carlo Ancelotti has persisted with the policy of playing Casillas in cup and European games and López in the league, much to the annoyance of the Madrid media.

This debate won’t extend to the national team in Brazil, however. Casillas is firmly established as Spanish number one, and is their most-capped player of all time. Even an injury to Barcelona’s Victor Valdés couldn’t help López force his way into Vicente Del Bosque’s thoughts, with Napoli’s Pepe Reina and Manchester United’s David de Gea preferred in the reserve goalkeeping spots.

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
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Hajime Hosogai (Japan)

Although Japan's manager Alberto Zaccheroni had promised few surprises with his World Cup squad he did manage to raise some eyebrows by leaving out midfielder Hajime Hosogai.

Hosogai, who plays for Herta Berlin, has been a regular feature in the Japanese squad over the last three years and has 23 caps to his name. He has featured regularly under Zaccheroni, but has failed to make the cut for Brazil. Instead Italian manager Zaccheroni has picked Toshihiro Aoyama, who has played more than 200 times for Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Both footballers are defensive midfielders, but Aoyama has won just two caps for his country.

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Radja Nainggolan (Belgium)

Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan has been in impressive form for Roma this season since joining the Giallorossi from Cagliari in January. However, he has only appeared for the national side a handful of times, and has been one of the main victims of the depth of talent which has come with Belgium’s emergence as a force in world football, only making the standby list of Marc Wilmots’ World Cup squad.

Nainggolan’s cause hasn’t been helped by the decision of Manchester United wunderkind and fellow central midfielder Adnan Januzaj’s decision to commit his international future to Belgium ahead of Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Turkey and England, with the latter pipping Nainggolan to a place in the 23.

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Gaël Clichy (France)

France’s wealth of options in defence has led to some inevitable casualties in Didier Deschamps’ World Cup selection. Despite helping Manchester City to a second Premier League title with club-and-country team mate Samir Nasri, full back Gaël Clichy has been left out.

Another notable omission from Deschamps’ squad is Monaco’s veteran defender Éric Abidal, with Deschamps opting for the youth and raw talent of Paris St-Germain’s Lucas Digne over both Clichy and the former Barcelona man.

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Javier Pastore (Argentina)

Back in 2011, Argentina midfielder Javier Pastore was one of the hottest properties in world football. His performances for Palermo led to a €39.8 million move to big-spending Paris St-Germain, and it appeared he had the world at his feet.

Still only 24, he’s barely featured for the international side since then, and has endured a difficult 2013/4 season for PSG, managing just one goal and one assist in Ligue 1. With relative youth on his side, Pastore will be hoping he can turn his international career around in time for the next World Cup in 2018.

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Archie Thompson (Australia)

Although it appears Aussie coach Ange Postecoglou has decided to go with youth over experience in his squad, the decision to leave striker Archie Thompson at home has surprised many.

With nine goals in 24 appearances for his A-League side Melbourne Victory, Thompson certainly fulfilled Postecoglou's criteria that he would only take players who were in form and playing regularly. Thompson also has 28 goals in 54 appearances for his country, although admittedly he did score a world record 13 of those in one match against American Samoa. Thompson was the top scorer in last year's East Asian Cup, and many expected him to feature in the squad, thinking that his pace and goal-poaching instincts could have helped Australia, coming on in the second half to worry defenders.