Club football is better that National Team football, in particular as FIFA continues everything they can to ruin the World Cup. That said, the World Cup of course still attracts attention (including for myself, as it is the reason I started to watch football), and on part I find particularly interesting is to see which clubs are represented among the many players in the World Cup. Of course some star players from countries that did not qualify are absent, as are injured played (notably for France the absence of stars like Karim Benzema and Ngolo Kante, or Sadio Mane for Senegal). But the quick exercise still throws some illuminating stats on the best leagues and clubs in the world.
There are according to my best analysis, 299 clubs from 44 countries represented among the players in the WC. The best represented leagues are as follows:
1) England: 155 players in the World Cup play in 38 different clubs. 27 of the clubs are Premier League sides, with the remaining clubs from the Championship, and even leagues 2 and 3 are represented!
2) Spain: 86 players play in 21 different Spanish clubs. That said, over half of these players (50) play in just four clubs: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid. It is a league overly represented by the top teams.
3) Germany: 80 players from 20 clubs, three of which are 2. Bundesliga clubs.
4) Italy: 70 players from 23 clubs. Considering Italy did not qualify, this is testament to the quality of the Italian league, who would be even better represented if Italy had qualified.
5) France: 52 players hailing from 23 clubs, and a very varied group as well that includes many Africans in smaller clubs.
6) Saudi Arabia: 33 players from 10 clubs. Not testament to a strong league, but to the fact that the entire Saudi squad is made up of local players, and then four countries have one or two players playing in Saudi Arabia as well.
7) Qatar: 33 players from 8 clubs. Just as with Saudi Arabia, the entire squad is made up of local lads, with 19 players coming from two clubs alone, Al-Sadd and Al_Duhail
8) USA: perhaps testament to the growth of MLS (and note that there are three Canadian MLS teams represented, not included here), 24 players from 17 clubs play in the USA. Of course, not all these are MLS clubs
9) Belgium: 24 players from 12 clubs play in Belgium, with Club Brugge in particular well represented with 8 players from five different countries.
10) Mexico: 23 players from 9 different clubs, mainly Mexicans, but also some other Latin Americans.
It is notable, perhaps showing the shifts of global football, how under-represented leagues like the Argentina and Brazilian are, as well as China (only two players), while one sees growth in Japan and South Corea.Other smaller leagues like Scotland, Portugal (Benfica in particular) and the Netherlands (Ajax Amsterdam) are also well represented.
And well, which are the clubs with most players in the World Cup? (Strongest?):
1) Bayern Munich: 17 players from eight different countries play in Bayern Munich. They are of course heavily represented in Germany, with seven players, but also France has four players who play in Bayern. Note I counted Sadio Mane, so one has to be subtracted as the Senegalese find his replacement
2) FC Barcelona: 16 players from eight countries ply their trade in Barcelona, of which seven play for Spain.
3) Manchester City: 15 players from a variety of nine countries play in City. The most are four ENglishmen for England, but also three Portuguese play in City.
4) Al-Sadd: The Qatari side has 15 players in the world cup. 13 of these are on the Qatari, but they also have one Ghanaian and a South Corean.
5) Manchester United: The city of Manchester is well represented. 14 players from 9 countries play in United, including 3 Brazilians, 3 Portuguese and 3 English.
6) Real Madrid: 13 players from seven countries, although Benzema must be discounted, there are still 2 French, 3 Brazilians and 2 on the Spanish squad.
7) Al-Hilal: 12 players, and all on Saudi Arabia's squad
8) Tottenham: 11 players from 10 countries, also makes Tottenham the side represented in most countries.
9) Chelsea: 11 players from 9 countries.
10) Atletico Madrid: 11 players from 7 countries, three on the Spanish squad.
11) Paris St. Germain:11 players from 7 countries, including three on the Portuguese squad, and a variety of other countries. And of course, Mbappé for France
12) Juventus: 11 players from six coutnries, among them three Brazilians and two Argentines
13) Borussia Dortmund: 11 players from six countries, among them five on the German squad
14) Ajax Amsterdam: 11 players from four countries for the Dutch giants, but here one must count seven players in the Dutch squad.
15) Sevilla: 10 players from 5 countries in the Southern Spanish club. Interestingly they have none on the Spanish national team, but among them three in the Argentine squad and two in the Danish
16) Arsenal: Nine players from 7 countries.
17) Rennes: The French side has eight players from seven countries, and in terms of French teams, only trails PSG. Only one player in the French squad, but two on the Belgian
18) Brighton & Hove Albion: A surprise in the Premier League, but also has a strong side with eight players from 6 countries, among them three players from the competitive Ecuadorian squad.
19) Club Brugge: The Belgian side has eight players from five countries
20) AC Milan: Another Italian club that would surely have more if Italy had qualified, but has seven players from six countries.
These are the top 20. Eintracht Frankfurt, Brentford, Inter, Monaco, are also interesting clubs, but although this is far from complete, it is an interesting list as we enter the world cup!