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While France showed off its strength by announcing the players it will be leaving behind, England look down to bare bones in this week’s squad announcements

It’s always a sign that the World Cup is getting close when the squads are released. The fans have more and more to discuss and get increasingly more excited. For players, it’s a time for some anxiety as missing out on a spot in the World Cup isn’t quite like losing a match on a gaming console. While you can redeem yourself a few minutes later in the virtual world, the World Cup only comes around once every four years.

However, there are also some players that would rather stay at home playing video games as they don’t seem too keen on representing their country at the World Cup. Portuguese left-back Fabio Coentrao asked to be left out of his nation’s World Cup squad, saying “in the last week, after a lot of thinking, I told the national team coach that, after a very exhausting season, I feel I don’t have the necessary conditions to represent the national team.”

You could interpret it as self-knowledge, but in South America, the only term that applies to this decision would be that Coentrao is a ‘Pecho Frio’ (a person with no heart for the country).

While Coentrao has decided not to represent his country, over in France several players have been left out of the squad while certainly being World Cup quality. It’s the harsh reality when a country boasts such a surplus of talent like Les Blues currently does. Dimitri Payet, Adrien Rabiot and Alexandre Lacazette are just some of the names that have been left at home by France manager Didier Deschamps.

Luxury problems is not something in the dictionary of Heimir Hallgrimsson. Besides being a dentist, Hallgrimsson is also manager of tiny, mythical Iceland. The country shook the world by making the quarter-finals at the 2016 Euros and has continued the success story by qualifying for this summer’s World Cup, becoming the lowest-populated nation to reach the World Cup finals.

In the process of picking the 23 names that will represent Iceland in its biggest sporting moment ever, Hallgrimsson and his staff had significantly fewer players to consider than the other 31 participants as Iceland only has a total of 120 professional footballers in their national pool. That’s a stark contrast to countries like Brazil and Germany.

Another nation with a fair few amount of professional footballers more than Iceland is England but for whatever reason, the quality isn’t quite up there with Brazil and Germany. At least, that’s what springs to mind after a quick look at their World Cup squad. Sure there is some talent in there with the likes of Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford in the mix but really challenging in Russia with that squad is nothing but an illusion. The Three Lions’ social media team didn’t do themselves a favor with the announcement either…

And finally, a squad selection that also invited the brain to some questioning was that of Argentina. Boss Jorge Sampaoli is yet to announce his final choice but presented his preliminary squad at the start of the week. The real question is which attackers will he take to the World Cup. Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero seem certainties, so that leaves Mauro Icardi, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Lautaro Martinez and Diego Perotti fighting for the remaining spots.

That’s something that will surely lead to controversy, no matter what name Sampaoli leaves at home. At the end of the day, only the results at the World Cup will show if Sampaoli has made the right decision. And that, of course, is the case for any manager.

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