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worldcup

Newcastle United’s World Cup Hopefuls

By Cal, click here to go to the discussion thread

Stats are for this season up to 10 Jan 14. Rankings are out of the 20 players to have played at least 180 minutes this season.

ALGERIA

Mehdi Abeid
The 21 year old French-born Algerian has yet to be called up to the senior squad since he switched allegiances from the French youth system in 2011, but he has made a handful of appearances at the U23 level. He’s serving this season on loan at Panathinaikos and has impressed so far in his time there, scoring 4 goals in 15 league appearances to help the Super League side to 4th place, while also making him their second top scorer. The Algerian national squad has an ageing core of midfielders and seem to have been experimenting with call-ups for a range of younger players this past year, giving Abeid an outside chance of some involvement soon and potentially at the World Cup.

ARGENTINA

Fabricio Coloccini
Despite having the most caps (39) of any defender recently involved with the Argentina squad, Coloccini hasn’t gone to a major tournament with his national team since the 2006 World Cup. Last year he did enjoy a fringe role for his country however, earning 4 caps, but most of those came from friendlies.

His form for Newcastle has been mixed this season, his average rating of 6.11 placing 10th out of the 20 players we’ve used for 180 or more minutes, however it was picking up and he formed a formidable partnership with Williamson through the winter. This has been halted by a lengthy injury, however, which will ruin the momentum he was building and further reduce his likelihood of going to the World Cup.

Jonás Gutiérrez
Although one of the first name’s on Maradona’s team sheet during his stint in charge of Argentina and going to the 2010 World Cup, El Galgo only has 22 caps to his name and featuring for his country country for just 27 minutes since that tournament before being dropped by Sabella, who is still in charge, in 2011.

His lack of recent international football combined with having only played around an hour of first-team football so far this season, which judging by his recent Twitter comments and loan move to Norwich will be his last for the club, it’s safe to say that if Gutiérrez wants to go to Brazil he’d be best off buying his own 2014 World Cup tickets.

ENGLAND

Mike Williamson
Don’t laugh just yet. Despite having had no involvement in the England set-up at any point in his career, the 30 year old has really found his prime this season and many Newcastle fans would argue should be in contention for selection. He is our 5th best player this season, according to the TFI, with an average rating of 6.43, displaying great consistency and only being dragged down by two games; Sunderland (a), when he was paired with Dummett, and Swansea (a).

While I wouldn’t make an argument for him to be a first choice, he has surely outperformed the likes of Smalling and Lescott, and should be challenging Dawson and Caulker for a 3rd/4th CB slot.

FRANCE

Hatem Ben Arfa
Fan favourite Ben Arfa isn’t quite as popular with his national team, having been frozen out of the French squad since Euro 2012 where he had a falling out with Laurent Blanc, who was then replaced by Deschamps, another manager Ben Arfa has fallen foul of. The 26 year old, who has just 13 caps despite his immense talent, has since apologised and vowed to put in consistently good performances to earn his way back into the squad.

However as a look at the TFI will tell you, this hasn’t been the case this season. Ben Arfa has delighted and frustrated fans in equal measure, either performing incredibly well and showing his star quality, such as against Stoke on Boxing Day, or being greedy and wasteful, as in the following match against West Brom. These showings average out to a fairly respectable, by TFI standards, 6.17, enough to rank 8th in the squad. Short of him suddenly finding some consistency while also winning Deschamps’ favour, I highly doubt we’ll be seeing him in Brazil.

Yohan Cabaye
Coinciding with his move to Newcastle, Cabaye has been a regular of increasing importance for France since 2011, leading to him picking up a total 26 caps, 25 of which came in the last 3 years.

Cabaye’s club form has been excellent, hitting a high in December as he scored three games in a row with an average rating of 7.98 over that period. For the whole season he has averaged 6.48, ranking 4th, with his 5 goals and 4 assists making him one of our most productive players. Short of an injury, I’d say he’s a certainty for French World Cup squad.

Mathieu Debuchy
Like his good friend Cabaye, Debuchy came to prominence in the French squad during 2011 and has been somewhat of a regular since, albeit with stiff competition from Sagna when he’s fit. This has led to him picking up 18 caps to date. Lately he has been starting ahead of Sagna, and hopefully that will continue.

Despite Debuchy’s shaky start to life in the Premiership, he has grown into this season and been a rare consistently excellent player that dominates both in defence and attack down his right flank, and were it not for his moment of idiocy against West Brom he would be our top rated player of the season so far. As it stands he is our outfield player with the most minutes played (only missing time through suspension aside from one 86th minute sub) and ranked 3rd with an average rating of 6.54. Debuchy’s performances this season haven’t gone unnoticed outside of Newcastle, with WhoScored ranking him as the best right-back of the season so far. I’d give him an excellent chance of going to the World Cup.

Yoan Gouffran
27 year old Gouffran has never featured at a senior level for France, and when asked in November about his chances of breaking into the squad he played down his chances saying, “I don’t think so. Every game, it’s the same players. There are 20 or 21 players, and every time it’s the same players. I’m happy to play for Newcastle. I focus on Newcastle. If I play well, I’m happy, and if we win, I’m happy.”

His focus on Newcastle has resulted in a string of great performances; although they have tapered off as of late, perhaps a sign of the lack of a winter break taking its toll on the versatile Frenchman as he has been subbed off in 6 of our last 7 games. Over the season he has averaged a rating of 6.11, as his tendency to fade out of games in the second half has an adverse effect upon his ratings. Despite his defensive duties, his poacher’s instinct has seen him grab 7 goals, second only to Rémy. I doubt he’ll be selected, but if I was Deschamps I’d definitely consider taking him; he’s versatile, hardworking and consistent. He does his share of defensive work while still chipping in with goals. That’s a lot of utility tied up in a single squad slot.

Loïc Rémy
Rémy has a long history of failing to impress on the international stage, having made his debut in 2008 and only scoring 4 times in 21 appearances until now. He failed to make the Euro 2012 squad despite playing 16 games for his country in the two seasons leading up to it. His form for Newcastle earlier this season has earned him a goalless return to the squad in recent months.

The loanee started the season in style, scoring 8 times in his first 9 starts, but since then the goals have dried up somewhat and he has only scored in 1 of his last 9 starts. In this dry spell he has still put in some good performances, but not always. Over the season he has averaged a 6.36 rating, ranking 6th, and scored 10 goals with 2 assists, making him our most effective attacking player. Rémy’s chances of going to the World Cup depend a lot on how he and his competition perform for the rest of the season. Benzema and Giroud are pretty much guaranteed to go, but Rémy will be battling the likes of the in-form Gignac and Lacazette, the latter also challenging Rémy’s ability to play a wing forward, for a place in the squad.

Moussa Sissoko
Sissoko has enjoyed a good run in the national team since Euro 2012, with Deschamps turning to him as one of his substitutes of choice and playing a part in six qualification matches for this World Cup, and earning 10 of his 13 caps in that period.

On a domestic level, Sissoko has featured far more, playing a part in all but one of our games so far this season (Leeds in the League Cup), although his performances have been a mixed bag, with his poor decision making and passing often costing him marks with the fans. Despite this he has actually racked up 4 assists in his last 7 games. His TFI rating for the season so far is 5.87, which is surprisingly only enough for 14th in the squad. This type of form isn’t going to make a strong argument for selection, but owing to Deschamps’ preference for bringing him on off the bench I’d say he has a good chance of going to Brazil.

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa
Central African born Yanga-Mbiwa has only made three appearances from France, all within August-September 2012, and hasn’t been in a France squad since March 2013. Sakho and Zouma have since taken his place as young centre-backs in the squad.

Mapou’s form for Newcastle has varied between terrible and great, showing signs of the excellent centre-back he could be. Unfortunately these good performances were generally disrupted, such as his run of form from Man City in the cup through to Norwich, which was ruined by the return of Coloccini first shunting him out wide, and then out of the starting line-up altogether. When he hasn’t performed well he has been slated by our fans, nullifying his good games and leading to a rating of 5.76, rank 16. His best chance of going to the World Cup would be by buying his own tickets.

ITALY

Davide Santon
Santon made his debut for Italy at just 18 years of age in 2009, going on to make another 4 appearances that year. Since then, however, he hasn’t had much involvement with the senior team, with his most recent call-up coming almost a year ago. Criscito and recent, yet mature, call-up Pasqual are blocking his way to place at left-back, while Maggio and Abate obstruct a route to a right-back place.

The 23 year old, on the whole, hasn’t impressed for Newcastle this season, averaging a rating of just 5.83 (rank 15). Despite doing a good job of carrying the ball up field, he is generally criticised for his defensive frailties, which are often exposed by opponents who prefer to target him than the more impressive and defensively sound Debuchy. It’s going to take a freak run of form to even get him on the radar for selection.

IVORY COAST

Cheick Tioté
The Ivory Coast’s number 9 has been a regular for them since 2010 and named in every major international competition they’ve taken part in since. He has accrued 41 caps for The Elephants, scoring a single goal.

Tioté has been indomitable in the league this season, a return to, or even exceeding, the form he displayed for his first two years at the club. This has resulted in him having the highest average TFI rating of the season so far with 6.60. As a vital component of both his domestic and national teams, I don’t see any way (barring injury/suspension) that he won’t be at the World Cup.

NETHERLANDS

Vurnon Anita
Four years ago Anita was named in the preliminary squad for the 2010 World Cup after a couple of appearances that year, but he didn’t make the final squad and has played just a single game for his country since.

The 24 year old will hope that his performances for Newcastle, combined with his friendship with compatriot Krul, will manage to get his name in the hat for selection. He’s Newcastle second best player so far this season, averaging a rating of 6.55. However one obstacle to his dreams of making it to Brazil will be his own manager, as Pardew seems reluctant to give him a run in the side unless his hand is forced first. I don’t think that he will make the World Cup squad, but I believe that he deserves to.

Tim Krul
Krul made his mark on the international scene in 2011 with a clean sheet on his debut against Brazil, however he failed to made an appearance despite being in the squad for Euro 2012. Then Van Gaal took over, played Krul in his first competitive match and named him his number 1, only for Krul to go on to get injured before he could establish himself as his long-term first choice goalkeeper. Leading up to the World Cup there has been a battle between Krul, Cillessen and Vorm in the absence of Stekelenburg, who will now no doubt be looking to retake his place despite not playing for his country in 2013.

For Newcastle, where Krul is most definitely first choice, he’s had mixed fortune this season, with his confidence seemingly shaky and his distribution always suspect. Aside from a couple of great performances in the face of countless shots against Man City and Tottenham, he’s failed to impress with regularity, although a lot of this is down to not facing a lot of shots in some games. He has averaged a rating of 5.98, a noticeable step above Elliot’s 5.42. I think Krul will be going to the World Cup, but the Netherlands have a wealth of goalkeeping talent to keep him on his toes.

NIGERIA

Shola Ameobi
Shola made his debut for Nigeria in November 2012 after three years of trying to switch allegiances back to country of birth. He has made 3 starts, 2 sub appearances and gotten 2 goals and an assist since then, with both goals coming towards the end of 2013. The Super Eagles’ manager Stephen Keshi has already told the press that Shola is going to the World Cup.

Who do you think will be representing Newcastle at the World Cup? Have your say in the thread.