The World Cup is less than a month away and it’s that time of the year when countries start announcing their provisional squads for the biggest footballing spectacle in the world. This time, it’s 3rd ranked Belgium and 8th ranked Spain’s turn to announce their squads.
Belgium manager and genius, Roberto Martinez, like France manager Didier Deschamps and Brazil’s Tite, has opted to announce the final 23 already. Most of the squad is as expected except one surprise as good ol’ Bobby has decided to exclude our old crush, Radja Nainggolan.
Radja Nainggolan has created more chances (196) and won more tackles (214) for Roma than any other player in Serie A and the Champions League since 2015/16.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 21, 2018
Get a midfielder who can do both... oh wait. pic.twitter.com/TBj6htvZJ2
“Radja Nainggolan is a top player. The reason is tactical. In the past two years the team has worked in a specific manner. Other players had those roles.
”We know Radja has a very important role in his club and we cannot give him that role in our squad.”
-Roberto Martinez; Source: BBC
Nainggolan didn’t take that very kindly and in return, decided to retire from international football altogether. Your move, Bobby. Of course, if Nainggolan had just joined us when he had the chance, maybe he’d have made the squad. Who knows. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
OFFICIAL: Radja Nainggolan has confimed his retirement from International football after not being selected for Belgium's 2018 World Cup provisional squad. pic.twitter.com/3TsdwVjdQL— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) May 21, 2018
From Chelsea’s perspective, the news is good. Starters like Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard have, unsurprisingly, made the squad while Michy Batshuayi has also been included. It’s good to see that Batshuayi’s recovery from the injury suffered during his tenure as a loanee at Dortmund is going well and we hope that all three of our Belgian stars do well in Russia and hope that they’re still our Belgian stars by the time the World Cup actually starts.
Moving on, the situation is more dire when it comes to Chelsea’s Spanish contingent as only one Chelsea player has made it to Spain’s 23-man squad. Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Marcos Alonso and Alvaro Morata all have missed out with the exclusion of Azpilicueta. Dire situation, indeed. Meanwhile, ex Chelsea striker and shenanigans extraordinaire, Diego Costa, has made it to the squad at the expense of his replacement Morata, who has found life tough in England.
Spain drop their final World Cup 23— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 21, 2018
OUT: Marcos Alonso, Alvaro Morata
IN: Nacho Monreal, Diego Costa pic.twitter.com/vuROhkP3eD
It’s sad to see only one out of the five Spanish Chelsea players be selected for the World Cup but that’s life, I suppose and the one who was selected, Azpilicueta, might not end up getting a lot of playing time. This is good in some aspects as our Spaniards will be well rested and raring to go in the coming season but it surely must be disappointing for them and they have our sympathy.
Here’s hoping that Belgium, at the very least, make it quite far in the tournament. You go, Roberto!