Erling Haaland 2Jpg

Can players make the World 11 despite missing the 2022 World Cup?


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Erling Haaland 2Jpg
  • 2022 FIFA FIFPRO Men’s World 11 – voted for by the players – will be revealed at The Best FIFA Football Awards on 27 February

  • Just two of the 26 nominees did not play at the World Cup in Qatar

  • Will they still get seal of approval from fellow pros despite missing out on biggest men’s international tournament?

Just two players within the current 26 FIFA FIFPRO Men’s World 11 nominees did not kick a ball at the 2022 World Cup: Erling Haaland (Norway) and Karim Benzema (France).

Despite missing the global finals in Qatar, Haaland and Benzema nonetheless have a strong chance of making the World 11 after being voted as finalists by their fellow professionals.

It begs the question: Can Haaland and Benzema still make the World 11 despite not playing at the World Cup?

FIFPRO takes a look at the players’ cases to be selected in the team of the year, based on their performances for the period 8 August 2021 to 18 December 2022 inclusive.

How does the World 11 voting work?

Erling Haaland

A natural born goalscorer, Erling Haaland is no stranger to the World 11. The giant Norwegian was named in the last team of the year due to his stellar performances for German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund.

His final campaign with Dortmund and his goalscoring exploits at Manchester City since joining in summer 2022 have certainty not gone unnoticed by his fellow professionals, who voted him as a candidate for the 2022 Men’s World 11.

A player capable of scoring with either foot, Haaland ended his time at BVB with 22 Bundesliga goals in 24 games. He also provided eight assists, the most of any of the leading scorers in the German league, which also included Robert Lewandowski (35+3) and Patrik Schick (24+3).

Erling Haaland 3

But it was his blockbuster entrance to the Premier League that really captured the imagination of the football world.

Haaland’s City scoring stats up until World Cup season-break

  • 18 Premier League goals in 13 games
  • 5 Champions League goals in 4 games
  • Three triple hat-tricks in Premier League

While Norway did not qualify for the 2022 World Cup, Haaland still made an impression on the international scene with nine goals in six matches – six of those coming in the UEFA Nations League.

Despite missing the global finals, Haaland’s case for a World 11 place is strong. Will he get the votes of his fellow peers?

What his team-mate said

“Erling is so obsessed with goals. He already has about 200 goals, so he can probably go to 600, 700 or 800 if he stays fit and does the things that he does. Erling is a top-level striker. I don’t see Erling as different to a lot of people. He is a normal football player like everybody else and he doesn’t take himself too seriously.”
Fellow 2022 World 11 candidate and Manchester City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne

Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema has never been named in the FIFA FIFPRO World 11 since the award’s launch in 2005. But the forward has cause for optimism to make his World 11 debut on the back of a terrific 2021/22 season.

Benzema’s goals were vital in helping Real Madrid to La Liga and UEFA Champions League success and the Frenchman finished top of the scoring charts in both competitions.

Karim Benzema 1

Yet it is Benzema’s ability to produce match-winning goals that really puts him in an elite category: in the 2021/22 La Liga season, he bagged six winners; while in the Champions League he netted three times over two legs in the semi-final against Manchester City.

Benzema’s Real Madrid stats 2021/22

  • 27 goals in 31 La Liga games
  • 12 La Liga assists
  • 15 goals in 12 Champions League games

Benzema’s goalscoring prowess during the 2021/22 campaign was not limited to club level, however.

Though he missed out on the World Cup due to a thigh injury in a training session on the even of the tournament – and would later retire from international duty the day after the World Cup Final – Benzema’s goals in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals and final helped Les Bleus to the title.

Will Benzema’s successes for club and country help earn him a place in the World 11 despite missing the World Cup through injury?

What his team-mate said

“For me he is currently the best striker. He has everything, his understanding of the game is incredible."
Fellow 2022 World 11 candidate and Real Madrid team-mate Antonio Rudiger

World Cup Trophy

Has a player missed the World Cup but still made the World 11 before?

History shows that players can still make the World 11 despite not playing at the World Cup.

The first was Samuel Eto’o in 2006, who did not feature at Germany 2006 due to Cameroon’s failure to qualify. However, his exploits at club level that season – in which his goals helped Barcelona to La Liga and UEFA Champions glory – were enough for his fellow professionals to select him in the team of the year.

Furthermore, Dani Alves was included in the 2018 World 11 despite missing Russia 2018 due to a knee injury. A trophy-laden season with Paris Saint-Germain, which included a domestic treble, meant fellow professionals voted the Brazilian into the World 11.

The cases of Eto’o and Alves show that, indeed, players can make the World 11 even if they missed the World Cup. 

Will Haaland and Benzema have the votes of their fellow peers for the 2022 World 11? The football world will find out on Monday 27 February.