FIFA World Cup 2018 in numbers: Premier League players make their presence felt in Russia
The Premier League was the best-represented league at the World Cup in Russia despite losing its league-leading status in the final.
England didn't bring the trophy home as Gareth Southgate's men couldn’t emulate the title-winning success of the 1966 squad in Russia, yet the Three Lions left Russia as winners, at least in terms of club-wise representation at the World Cup. The recently-concluded edition saw the most number of players from the Premier League than any other football league in the world. Yes, you read that right and let stats do the talking here.
Interestingly, the Premier League had most players competing when the tournament began. Even during the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the English league dominated. Also, it accounted for 19 players in the semi-finals in 2014. That’s just two behind Bundesliga (21).
In this year’s edition, the best league in the world, arguably, gained numbers as the tournament progressed but eventually lost its league-leading status only in the final. All 23 members of the England squad represented the Premier League. Homegrown talent stands out!
Each of the 32 teams brought a 23-man squad to the World Cup in Russia and a total of 736 players came from 310 clubs across 55 countries. The top five European leagues — Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 — dominated, accounting for 51 percent of the total number of players participating in Russia.
The Premier League accounted for 124 players, or 17 percent; 28 of the 32 teams had at least one player from an English club. La Liga and Bundesliga accounted for 11 and 9 percent of the total players, respectively. It should've come home, right?
As the tournament progressed, the share of players from Premier League clubs increased: 21 percent in the Round of 16 to 27 percent in the quarter-finals and shot up to 43 percent in the semi-finals.
This, however, does not indicate any major shift in terms of Premier League’s dominance in the last two World Cups but England going deep in the tournament was one reason for the league’s incredible run in Russia. Let’s exclude England from this calculation for the quarter-finals and semi-finals, you would still find English clubs lead Spanish clubs.
Meanwhile, Belgium, who finished third, featured more players from China than the country’s Jupiler League with only Anderlecht’s Leander Dendoncker playing his club football in the country, while nearly half their squad consisted players from the Premier League.
Silver medallists Croatia featured only two players, who ply their trade in the Croatian league, and had the most spread out squad across Europe with 11 national leagues represented in the team.
Spain and 2018 champions France had the most players after the Premier League with 12 each.
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