After part one focused on how a nation is influenced by the experiences of their players during the preceding season, we’re continuing our in-depth analysis of the hopefuls heading to the World Cup in Russia this month, with our attention turned to what individual clubs and leagues are contributing to the tournament.
Two squads stand out as having already developed a winning habit this season: over half of Brazil’s players (14) have already won a league title this season, along with 12 of those who made the cut for Germany. By comparison, England only boasts four title winners (all of Manchester City) and the squad’s overall average finishing position of 4.7 ranks them ninth among the 16 teams in pots one and two.
The domestic record of England players may not make for impressive reading, but the contribution of the Premier League’s clubs most certainly does. Manchester City have a whopping 16 representatives at the tournament, edging both Real Madrid (15) and Barcelona (14) as the club with the most players heading to Russia. Tottenham (12, tied with PSG), Chelsea and Manchester United (both 11) also feature among the 10 best-represented sides.
Spurs are also the dominant supplier to their country’s own national team with five players among Gareth Southgate’s final 23, although the seven Germans hailing from Bayern Munich’s ranks and the six Spaniards contracted to Real Madrid top this. The four Brazilians employed by Pep Guardiola’s City side make them the leading provider of players to a foreign nation at the tournament.
The English leagues also provide another interesting contrast. Newcastle, who finished 10th in the Premier League this season, are the highest-ranked English club not to have a single player heading to Russia, but local rivals Sunderland – who finished bottom of the second tier – will have a representative: Bryan Oviedo of Costa Rica.
England is also the league that houses the most World Cup players, with 124 of the 736 heading to the tournament playing their domestic football in either the Premier League or EFL. This is almost as many as Germany (67) and Italy (58) combined, although Spain’s 81 is comfortably superior to those two. The story looks similar when we look at the most minutes played among the eight shortest-priced teams to claim the trophy. Those at English clubs have clocked up 131,982 minutes of league football this season, which is comfortably ahead of those plying their trade in Spain (81,552). Surprisingly, the Scottish league makes the top 10 with almost 4,000 minutes thanks to Old Firm defensive rivals Dedryck Boyata of Celtic and Rangers’ Bruno Alves making the cut.
The England national team will also be the only one of the 32 competing in Russia to have a squad made up exclusively of domestic-based players. Russia and Saudi Arabia – two sides renowned for this policy at previous tournaments – both feature a handful of players who are based overseas: four in Spain and one in Belgium. While the Spanish squad itself ranks second in the domestic bias stakes with 17 LaLiga members, only one of the 23 Belgians is actually based on home soil. The Belgian squad is drawn from 18 different clubs, although Argentina and Portugal – on 19 – are even more thinly spread. England are the most concentrated among the eight favourites by this measure, with players from just 11 clubs in total.
Finally we’ve turned to the excellent TransferMarkt website to see whose squads are the most valuable. Rather than relying on recent transfer fees, which would give an unreliable reading for the likes of Harry Kane (who has never moved clubs) or Dele Alli (whose worth has skyrocketed since he last moved), we’ve looked at their calculated market valuations. Doing so for the 16 teams in pots one and two sees France – with their squad packed full of young talent – come out as the most valuable: just £27.5m shy of a billion pounds in total. The Spain squad is also valued at over £900m, followed by Brazil, Germany and then England in fifth at just shy of £800m.
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