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An AC Milan Fan’s Guide of Who to Cheer for in the World Cup

With Italy out, it’s time for some soul-searching for a team to pull for in Russia 2018.

Portugal v Switzerland - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

The last ticket to Russia 2018 has been booked, which means we can officially start looking forward to the magic that is the World Cup.

The problem is, if you are like me, none of the teams you cheer for, or have an attachment to, aren’t going to appear in the World Cup, unless it’s in one of those “you had a bad day“ montages of teams who didn’t make it.

United States? Nope. Italy? Somehow, no. Even Ireland didn’t make it, and that was my last resort.

So where do we disappointed fans go now? I decided to take a look through Milan’s roster and find the players who will be in the World Cup next year, who we can throw our support behind and hopefully not be disappointed again.

Argentina - Lucas Biglia (And Mateo Musacchio)

Brazil Global Tour - Brazil v Argentina Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Argentina has the likes of Lucas Biglia, who gets pretty regular starts for the team. He has 55 caps for Argentina, climbing to a consistent starter beginning late in the 2014 World Cup. He plays in the same position as for his club: a sitting central midfielder. Argentina is also the home of Mateo Musacchio, but he has only six caps for La Albiceleste and has not been called up in six months. We’d love to see him in the World Cup as well, but for now we know we will have Biglia.

Colombia - Cristian Zapata

South Korea v Colombia - International Friendly Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Cristian Zapata is, even though some may be surprised, a pretty consistent starter for Colombia. He has 54 caps, and regularly is in their central defense; and actually plays decently well. We would not mind seeing Zapata knock a 97th minute volley past, I don’t know, Sweden, in the World Cup.

Croatia - Nicola Kalinic

Croatia v Greece - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: First Leg Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Once again, here we have a player with pretty consistent time in their national team. Kalinic has 40 caps and 15 goals for Croatia, including one in the first leg of the World Cup Playoff against Greece.

Portugal - Andre Silva

Andorra v Portugal - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Andre Silva has 11 goals in 18 caps for Portugal, and his break-out into the National Team is part of the reason that Milan brought him into the fold in the first place. Cristiano Ronaldo himself has said that Silva is next in line to be the great Portuguese forward, and when you couple that with their #3 FIFA ranking and that they are defending European Champions, this may be a solid bandwagon to jump on.

Spain - Suso

AC Milan v Real Betis Balompè - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Interestingly enough, we don’t have an image of Suso in a Spain jersey. That is because he just made his debut for Spain, a squad with an admittedly stacked roster, in the friendly against Russia on Tuesday. There is no guarantee that Suso will be in the World Cup roster, but he got called up due to his form. If he stays in form, he’ll go to Russia and have a chance to ball out on a global stage. If they don’t call him up, you can strike Spain from the list. I will also admit that Spain may not be the first choice for some who are looking for a team if Italy were their team that missed the World Cup, as the two are considered rivals. However, I am willing to put that to the side to see Milan’s best-performing player in the World Cup. Spain is also considered one of the favorites for the World Cup, so this is another solid bandwagon, if you’re looking to celebrate more so than just the player.

Switzerland - Ricardo Rodriguez

Northern Ireland v Switzerland - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: First Leg Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Another new arrival of Milan’s gives us another team that we can pull for. He has 50 Swiss caps and has three goals to his name, including the penalty that he scored against Northern Ireland (which was a bogus penalty, but Rodriguez was put on the spot to score and he did). We can look forward to seeing Rodriguez swinging free kicks and crosses for his squad in Russia as they advanced past Northern Ireland 1-0 on aggregate in the playoff round. Not saying Rodriguez is the reason they made it, but I’m also not not saying that.

BONUS: Iceland - Why not?

France v Iceland - Quarter Final: UEFA Euro 2016 Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

I’m also going to throw a shout in here for Iceland. The incredible story of the Icelandic national team, which started in Euro 2016 when they blew everyone’s minds by advancing to the quarterfinals, beating England in the process, continues. They won their group in World Cup Qualifying with 22 points over Croatia’s 20, and won all five of their matches at home. They’re a fun team to cheer for, and their fans are amazing as well. Iceland is the nation that introduced the fan thunder clap to the world. I don’t think anyone can really say they’re rooting against Iceland, so let’s throw them in our group.

Unfortunately, this list does not include the likes of the following, because their nations did not make it to the tournament:

  • Obviously any of the Italian players (Donnarumma, Romagnoli, Conti, Bonucci, etc.)
  • Hakan Calhanoglu (Turkey)
  • Franck Kessie (Ivory Coast)
  • Gustavo Gomez (Paraguay)

So there you have it. Now we have plenty of options looking forward to the World Cup in the summer, if you go by some of Milan’s players. This way, you’re supporting your club and the country at the same time.