Calcio Debate: The Best Non-Italy XI

The Azzurri have several stars in their squad, but consider the ones who are left at home to watch the international matches on TV...
Marcello Lippi makes his own decisions when choosing the Italy squad but, alas, some worthy contenders for places are always left out. Not those with minor injuries like Mauro Camoranesi and Alberto Gilardino, but the individuals who are ignored or are not even on the one-man selection committee's radar.

Whether they are retired from international football, have been injured for extended periods, or simply not held in high esteem by the head honcho  – let’s look at some of Italy’s best players not chosen to represent La Nazionale in recent times.

Formation:  The classic 4-4-2


Goalkeeper

Christian Abbiati (Milan): He’s been ruled out for the rest of the season and his attitude needs some tweaking but, up until this point, the former Atletico Madrid keeper has made some stunning saves, dealing with a shaky Rossoneri defence for protection.

Defence


Massimo Oddo (Bayern Munich): After a terrible 2007-08 campaign in Milan, the 32-year-old played himself out of contention for Euro 2008 and was subsequently loaned to the Bavarians. A willing runner, the ex-Hellas Verona player has shown glimpses of the form he was in at Lazio and the first six months with the Rossoneri.

Christian Panucci (Roma): The veteran may not get along with Marcello Lippi, or even Luciano Spalletti, but his experience is invaluable and he proved to be a more than capable centre-back during the last European Championships.

Andrea Barzagli (Wolfsburg): Another entrant from Germany, many Calcio fans probably never wanted to see him again after his horror-show in the 3-0 loss to Holland in Euro 2008. Should he be dismissed so quickly? The former Palermo player has played in every Bundesliga match for surprise outfit Wolfsburg, who are just one point away from first place.

Davide Santon (Inter):
The 18-year-old has already impressed during his short professional career, only breaking into the Nerazzurri backline in January. He’s already received praise from Marcello Lippi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho, so he could be on the actual national team sooner rather than later.

Midfield

Cristian Maggio (Napoli): While ex-Partenopei boss Lippi has called him up on occasions, he doesn't seem to have much faith in him. Before he succumbed to injury, Maggio had been impressive down the right for Napoli, as well as last season with Sampdoria. He never ceases parading across the right wing and also chips in with his fair share of goals.

Claudio Marchisio (Juventus):
Having impressed at Under-21 level, many believe Marchisio warrants a spot in the Juventus starting line-up day in and day out. The former Empoli player has been compared to the legendary Marco Tardelli.

Gaetano D’Agostino (Udinese):
Having been called up by Lippi previously in this campaign, when Udinese’s form dipped he was dropped. The 26-year-old has excellent vision and poise in his deep playmaking role, and could find himself back on the international scene in the future.

Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus):
Another Azzurrini member, the ‘Atomic Ant’ has displayed his explosiveness when given the chance, especially in the month of March. So much so, he has been touted as the heir to Alessandro Del Piero. What he lacks in stature, he makes up with his dribbling, passing, and set-piece abilities.

Attack

Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria): Lippi has not given his reasons for keeping ‘Talentino’ out of the Azzurri set-up, but they can’t be because of poor performances. The Bari-born star has dazzled this term with plenty of goals, assists and tricks to amaze spectators.

Sergio Floccari (Atalanta): The Atalanta star has also been snubbed despite a positive campaign. The well-rounded striker will definitely move to a bigger club in the summer having scored 12 Serie A goals this season already.

Abbiati

Oddo - Panucci - Barzagli - Santon

Maggio - Marchisio - D'Agostino - Giovinco

Cassano - Floccari

Substitutes

Frederico Marchetti (Cagliari): The Sardinian side are one of the surprise packages this year and some of the merit should go to this goalkeeper. His saves are of the highest class and he has been applauded by current Italy No. 1, Gianluigi Buffon.

Alessandro Nesta (Milan):
The former Lazio star will not make a single appearance this season due to a career-threatening back injury. If he had played even once I would put him in the starting XI. He makes it on the list based on talent alone as he is, arguably, the best defender of the past decade.

Paolo Maldini (Milan): The legendary captain may be 40 and hanging up his boots at the end of the campaign, but his experience and professionalism is something for everyone to admire. A key contributor on his day and his presence has benefits on and off the field.

Massimo Ambrosini (Milan): Another Milan man and another player Lippi has refused to discuss, perhaps it is only because Italy has a plethora of central midfielders at their disposal that he misses out.

Alessandro Rosina (Torino):
Has constantly been tipped to be a regular on the national team, but has never quite made the jump up in quality. Playing at Torino does not help his chances either. However, he has always been a breath of fresh air and has plenty of flair, hence the nickname ‘Rosinaldo.’

Marco Di Vaio (Bologna):
Tied for top scorer in Serie A with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Di Vaio failed to take advantage of his opportunities with the Azzurri when he was younger. Obviously, he has not forgotten how to put the ball in the back of the net.

Francesco Totti (Roma): Completing the trio of internationally retired stars on this bench is ‘Er Pupone’ himself. Niggling knocks have hampered the Giallorossi talisman this season, being confined to making a handful of appearances with a handful of goals. On the rare occasion he is healthy, he still remains one of the best in the Europe.

Honourable Mentions

Gianluca Curci (Siena)
Filippo Inzaghi (Milan)
Thiago Motta (Genoa)
Paolo De Ceglie (Juventus)
Cristiano Zanetti (Juventus)
Manuele Blasi (Napoli)
Fabiano Sanatcroce (Napoli)
Fabio Liverani (Palermo)
Domenico Criscito (Genoa)
Robert Acquafresca (Cagliari)
Mario Balotelli (Inter)

Do you think the names above are deserving of a place? Who would win – the real Italy formation or this one? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think...

Adam Scime, Goal.com