Happy Friday! For today’s XI we are picking the current best XI of players who’s country have only ever played at one World Cup Finals!
Only 20 teams have made the solitary World Cup appearance, and suffice to say, none of them have ever won it…
As usual we are picking a maximum of three players from each country, let’s get into it!
GOALKEEPER- Martin Dubravka- Slovakia
We start with a goalkeeper that certainly has been made to earn his wage since joining Newcastle in 2018. The Magpies are one of the most defensive sides in the Premier League, which means that Dubravka is busy pretty much every week!
Slovakia’s solitary World Cup campaign was in 2010, where they actually beat Italy and made it out of their group. Defeat against the Netherlands in the round of 16 meant they didn’t go any further, but they will certainly hold onto memories of beating the Azzuri.
Dubravka has been a consistent performer for the last couple of seasons for Newcastle since being plucked from Sparta Prague, and he makes it in goal for this XI.
LEFT BACK- Alphonso Davies- Canada
Canada’s Word Cup appearance came at the 1986 finals in Mexico, but unlike Slovakia, they didn’t have a successful campaign. The Canadians lost all three of their group games and were eliminated at the first hurdle.
Alphonso Davies is the golden boy of Canadian football, and the Bayern Munich left back is a wonderful prospect. His performances this season has shown that he is worth every penny of the $22 Million that brought him to the Bundesliga in 2019.
His electrifying pace and good technical ability makes him a perfect fit for Bayern, and he is sure to cement a place in their team for at least the next decade. He can also play higher up the pitch, and he may be able to fill the boots left by Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben.
RIGHT BACK- Oleksandr Zinchenko- Ukraine
Oleksandr Zinchenko has made the majority of his Premier League appearances at left back for Man City, but I wanted to fit him into the XI at right back here.
Ukraine were a part of the Soviet Union until 1991, which obviously means they have not had that many chances to make the finals. Their one campaign came in 2006, and they made the quarter finals, and only lost to the eventual winners, Italy. They were spearheaded by Andriy Shevchenko and outperformed many expectations in Germany.
Zinchenko is a wonderfully versatile footballer, who has clearly impressed Pep Guardiola, and the 23 year old already has two Premier League titles to his name.
CENTRE BACK- Milan Skriniar- Slovakia
The second Slovakian in this XI is Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar. The 25 year old is one of the most impressive defenders in Serie A and as soon as I saw Slovakia’s World Cup history, he was in this XI.
He was named Slovakian player of the year in 2019, and he is most likely going to be the next captain of his country once Marek Hamsik retires.
His performances at centre back for Inter have allowed the Nerazzurri to make a sustained challenge for the Scudetto. I have no doubt that you’ll see Skriniar at a huge European club soon.
CENTRE BACK- Dakonam Djené- Togo
Dakonam Djené has put in some excellent performances for Getafe over the last couple of seasons, which has lifted them to the Europa League against the odds.
Togo’s one and only World Cup appearance was at the 2006 finals, but unlike Ukraine, they had a poor campaign. They lost all three of their games and scored just once, but I am sure they were expecting no more.
Djené is a strong and quick centre back, and at 28, he is approaching his peak. He has made 49 appearances for Togo and he is one of their best players, he will be hoping to lead them to another World Cup before he retires.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Miralem Pjanić- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Miralem Pjanić forms the first part of my Juventus double pivot in midfield, and the Bosnian is an excellent creative force in the centre of midfield.
He makes it thanks to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s solitary World Cup campaign at the 2014 finals. They had a decent campaign, but missed out on reaching the quarter finals by a single point to Nigeria.
Pjanić was an important part of that side, but it has been at club level where he has experienced significant success. The 30 year old has won three Serie A titles and Coppa Italia’s, he is one of the key figures in the current all conquering Juventus side.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Aaron Ramsey- Wales
Aaron Ramsey is the first player from the homes nations to make this XI. The Welshman is enjoying a steady start to life in Italy with Juventus after a long stint at Arsenal.
Wales’ only World Cup involvement came in 1958, so they were the first of the teams we have mentioned so far to have made the World Cup finals. Wales made it out of their group despite not winning a single game (they drew all three) but they lost against Brazil in the second round, fair enough really!
Ramsey is part of the current Wales side who are sure to end their poor World Cup qualifying record, surely they will be in Qatar in 2022. The former Arsenal man has made 60 appearances for his country, scoring 16 goals, he is one of the defining players of this current Welsh generation.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD- Gylfi Sigurdsson- Iceland
Sigurdsson has had an excellent career in the Premier League, first with Swansea, then with Tottenham and Everton. He is 11th on Iceland’s all time appearances list, with 74 to his name.
Iceland are the only side represented in this XI who made their first appearance in the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia. After their Euro 2016 success they were expected to have a decent campaign, but they finished rock bottom of their group with just one point.
Sigurdsson is currently at Everton, and while he is certainly not displaying the best form of his career, he is still a very useful attacking midfielder. He has 60 Premier League goals to his name and many of them have been stunners with his rocket of a right foot.
LEFT WING- Leon Bailey- Jamaica
Leon Bailey is a fairly surprising inclusion in this side, but he certainly adds variety to the nations in this XI! The Bayer Leverkusen winger is just 22 and is a proven Bundesliga star.
Jamaica’s World Cup campaign was at the 1998 tournament in France, where they finished third in their group behind two very good sides (Argentina and Croatia). To be fair the CONCACAF federation usually only enters around three teams into the World Cup so it is difficult for them to qualify.
Bailey is part of an exciting, young Bayer Leverkusen side who are battling for European football in the Bundesliga. The Jamaican is fast and adept at taking set pieces, and while his stock may have diminished somewhat over the past 18 months, he is still an excellent player.
RIGHT WING- Gareth Bale- Wales
I genuinely think it is such a shame that Gareth Bale has struggled at Real Madrid, of course he has won four Champions League titles and one La Liga title in Madrid, but he has not had the effect that he really should have had.
Bale was absolutely electrifying at Spurs and when he was at his best there was absolutely no stopping him. His goals in the 2018 Champions League final showed the genius that he possesses, but it hasn’t been shown nearly enough.
Wales will be hoping that Bale will play a big role in their qualification campaign for the 2022 World Cup as he was such a big part of them reaching the semi final of the 2016 Euros.
STRIKER- Moanes Dabbur- Israel
Moanes Dabbur is the man who will lead the line for this XI, not because he is the best striker to come from a country that has only made one World Cup appearance, but because I wanted to look at yet another country! Plus, Edin Dzeko is past his best now…
Israel‘s one World Cup appearance was at the 1970 finals in Mexico, they finished bottom of their group, but still managed to pick up respectable draws against Italy and Sweden. They are part of UEFA, which makes it very hard for them to qualify for the World Cup, and I don’t see them making it soon.
Dabbur himself has been a consistent goal scorer around Europe for the last few seasons. Last season he scored 37 goals for RB Salzburg, but since his move to Sevilla, and then Hoffenheim, he has not been able to recreate this form.
That’s all for today’s XI!
Would you have made any changes?