Saturday, June 09, 2018

The Clubs in the World Cup

In my view Club football surpassed national team football in terms of quality and entertainment a long time ago (but it does not appeal to the nationalist passions of people who usually never watch football), and in this context it was interesting for me to look into how the club representation is at the World Cup. So with a lot of time to myself I put it all into an Excell ark and started inputs.
There are 311 clubs from 53 countries represented among the 736 players in the World Cup. Of course, some country leagues, like Norway, Honduras or Guinea, are represented by one single player (Iceland, Panama and Senegal respectively), while others are very well represented. So according to the number of players alone, these are the top-ten leagues in the world:
  1. England: There are 133 players from 28 different countries in the World Cup. Only Panama, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Uruguay (perhaps a bit surprising due to the quality of its players) do not have players in England. The English League is not only the Premier League, but also Championship teams are well represented. The dominance of English teams is so strong that for instance Stoke, with five players, is better represented in the World Cup than giants Ajax Amsterdam!
  2. Spain: 79 players from 22 countries shows the strength of the Spanish league, although one should mention that 35% of these players come from two well-known clubs (more about this later). There are 23 Spanish teams with players at the World Cup.
  3. Germany: 66 players from 19 different countries play in Germany.  
  4. Italy: Italy did not qualify, but still Italy is very well represented in terms of clubs, and would probably be even better had they qualified. There are 59 players from 21 different countries playing football in Italy. This is of course not surprising with many players in big clubs like Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, and even Sampdoria!
  5. France: 49 players play in France, with quite variety as they come from 19 different countries. One team accounts for 12 of these players (PSG), but note that the French team with players from most countries is AS Monaco, with 8 players representing 7 different countries (Senegal, Colombia, Poland, Croatia, Portugal, Belgium and France).
  6. Russia: Perhaps a bit surprising, but the hosts are well represented also at club level, with 37 players plying their trade in Russia. Although 10 different countries are represented, 21 of these players are in fact playing for Russia. The non-Russian teams with most players playing in Russia are Iceland and Iran (3 each).
  7. Saudi Arabia: 31 players are playing in Saudi Arabia, but this is because Saudi Arabia has 20 players in the squad playing there, 16 of which play for two teams (Al-Ahli and Al-Hilal). Egypt and Tunisia each have five members of their squad playing in Saudi Arabia, and Australia has one.
  8. Mexico: 22 players from seven different countries play in Mexico. Eight of these are in the Mexican squad, and seven in the Peruvian squad. The only player not from South- or North America playing in Mexico is the great Japanese Keisuke Honda (who is one of two Pachuca players in Russia).
  9. MLS (and this includes both US and one Canadian side): The growth of the MLS is shown by the fact that they are represented despite neither USA or Canada having qualified. There are 20 players from seven countries playing in the MLS. 12 of these players are from Costa Rica and Panama.
  10. Turkey: There are 19 players from 11 different countries, representing 11 different Turkish clubs. Perhaps most surprising is that Bursaspor has four players from three different countries in Russia (Nigeria, Senegal and Australia).
Now, perhaps more interesting than the individual leagues is to know which clubs are best represented in the World Cup:
  1. Manchester City: There was much talk of Germany not selecting Leroy Sane. And surely he will be lonely in Manchester, from where 16 players are going to the World Cup. These come from eight different countries. Brazil has four players from Manchester City, which is more than they have playing in the Brazilian league!
  2. Real Madrid: There are 15 Real Madrid players from eight different countries in the World Cup. This is despite some stars, such as Bale and Benzema, not going to Russia. Six Real Madrid players are going for Spain.
  3. Chelsea: The English side may have had a dreadful season but at least 14 of the players get to go to Russia with nine different teams, some of which will be fighting for the title, such as Spain, Brazil, Germany or France and perhaps even Argentina, Belgium or England...
  4. FC Barcelona: 13 players from nine different countries ply their trade in Barcelona. The most famous of these plays for Argentina, but many also represent some other big countries such as Spain (3), France (2), Brazil (2), Germany (1) or Uruguay (1)
  5. Paris St. Germain: 10 players from six different countries, the Parisian giants are well represented, particularly among the South Americans with Brazil (3), Argentina (2), Uruguay (1), but also with three French, two Germans and a Belgian.
  6. Tottenham: With 10 players from six different countries they are tied with PSG (but I decided to top Paris alphabetically). Five of these players are representing England.
  7. Juventus: If Italy had qualified Juventus would plausibly have been among the top clubs. Still, they are seventh with 11 players representing 10 different countries.
  8. Bayern Munich: The German giants have eleven players representing five countries. Seven of these are nevertheless playing for Germany, underlining the club's dominance in Germany.
  9. Manchester United: Ten players from six different countries play for Manchester United. Four of these play for England, but also two for Belgium, and one each for Spain, Sweden, France and Serbia.
  10. Al-Ahli: The runners-up of this season's Saudi championship are heavily represented in Russia with ten players from four different countries. Seven of these are in the Saudi squad (but Al-Hilal beats them with nine players in the Saudi squad), but also include one player each from Tunisia, Egypt and Australia.

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