Top 10: Which national sides run on Premier League power?
For a week the best football players in the English Premier League shifted their focus and put on their national colours. Sports Gazette watched the international World Cup qualifiers through Premier League spectacles and lists and discusses the 10 national sides lining up most players from the English top flight.
10. Brazil: 5
The Premier League is not particularly known for being a popular destination for Brazilian footballers. Only 12 currently play for English top flight clubs out of which just five made it into the Brazilian squad.
The other big competitions in Europe host a lot more. The Serie A for example is home to more than triple the number of Brazilians in the Premier League.
For their 5-0 home win against Bolivia only Fernandinho and Philippe Coutinho made it into the starting line-up.
In their second game against Venezuela, Willian was added to the starting line-up. He thanked manager Tite by scoring the final goal in their 2-0 win.
Like with Chelsea, Oscar does not seem to fit in his national manager’s plans as he did not come off the bench in either one of the fixtures.
Brazil top Group A in the South America qualifiers with 21 points from 10 matches.
9. Spain: 6
Spain find themselves low on the list. Striking since the country provides 10 per cent of all foreign players in the Premier League.
Out of the 37 Spanish Premier League players only six made it into Lopetegui’s final squad. Knowing that La Roja usually stick with players from their own league, and notably the ones who play El Clasico, this is not entirely surprising.
However, both David Silva and David de Gea are making themselves indispensable in the new Spain. Diego Costa is now his (new) national side’s main striker more than ever and Ander Herrera received his first call up for the big boys.
A late penalty conceded by Sergio Ramos cost Spain two points in Turin, but a hard-fought 2-0 win over Albania thanks to Premier League forwards Costa and Nolito put them at the top of their group nonetheless.
8. Argentina: 7
With seven Premier League players firmly planted in the starting line-up, Argentina should have found themselves higher in the list.
However, an accumulation of yellow cards after their 2-2 draw in Peru meant Argentina’s Premier League defence, Ramiro Funes Mori, Pablo Zabaleta and Nicolás Otamendi, were unavailable for their next qualifier against Paraguay.
On top of the absences of superstar Lionel Messi, Lucas Biglia and Augusto Fernandez due to injury, this hole in the defence proved irreparable as they lost 1-0 to Paraguay after Sergio Agüero missed from the penalty spot.
Argentina now find themselves out of the spots which guarantee direct qualification.
7. Scotland: 7
Out of 17 Scottish footballers playing in the Premier League, Gordon Strachan only selected seven to play for the Scottish national side.
Strachan has been trying to evolve his team. The truth of it is, he simply does not have the same quality Wales or even Ireland have.
In a group with England, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta qualification is a challenge, but it is not impossible.
However, after James McArthur only managed to grab a point in injury time against Lithuania, Scottish hope for a World Cup received an even bigger blow when they lost 3-0 in Slovakia.
As Scotland sit fourth in the group, McArthur says a win at Wembley is now a must.
6. Netherlands: 7
The Premier League has kneaded some big Dutch players in the past, from Dennis Bergkamp, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Edwin van der Sar to Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie.
However, the new Dutch generation seems to be struggling with their legacy. After famously missing the EURO’s last summer, the Dutch are determined to get into the World Cup.
After a comfortable win at home against Belarus, Danny Blind’s men lost 1-0 to France. They seem to be up against Sweden in a battle for the second position in Group A.
5. France: 10
Second only to Spain, France provides the most foreign players in England. Unlike Lopetegui, however, Deschamps picks almost half of his squad out of the Premier League.
On top of that France faced both its fixtures with half of its starting line-up consisting of Premier League players.
Dimitri Payet got on the score sheet in their 4-1 win over Bulgaria and Paul Pogba made the difference against the Netherlands from out wide.
France now share the first spot in Group A with Sweden.
4. Wales: 10
Wales manager Chris Coleman depends heavily on players earning their coin in England. Apart from youngsters Lloyd Isgrove and Oliver Davies, Boaz Myhill and, of course, the injured Aaron Ramsey, the reserve of Welsh Premier League players was all emptied out.
After a good performance and an encouraging draw in Austria, Wales’ hopes of qualifying for the World Cup suffered a blow as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Georgia.
They currently sit third in Group D, one of the toughest groups in Europe.
3. Ireland: 11
With just three footballers playing anywhere else than England, Ireland lines up as a sturdy Premier League side with the odd Championship player.
Captain Seamus Coleman’s first Irish senior goal gave them a scarcely deserved 1-0 win over Georgia.
However, in Moldova, Shane Long needed only two minutes to wash away the critique. McClean tripled the Irish score which put them in second position in the same harsh group as Wales.
Premier league players have dominated the Belgian national side ever since they resurfaced from the dark ages in 2012. With the massive rise of Belgians in the Premier League it is not really surprising to find them as runners-up in the list.
Even with solid picks Kevin De Bruyne and Moussa Dembele out injured, manager Roberto Martinez still selected 14 out of a total of 20 Belgians in the English top flight.
Belgium are running high on confidence after their two qualifiers. They scored 10 times and conceded none.
In the win over Gibraltar Christian Benteke scored the fastest goal ever in international football. It took him only 8.1 seconds to intercept the ball, break through the defence and beat the Gibraltarian goalkeeper. It takes Usain Bolt 1.5 seconds longer to run a hundred meters.
Belgium top Group H, with maximum points.
1. England: 21
An inevitable number one. At the Euros this summer England were the only team that consisted exclusively out of players from its own league.
However, Joe Hart’s fall from grace at the hands of new City boss Pep Guardiola made him the sole expat in what would arguably be one of the strongest sides in the Premier League.
When Wayne Rooney’s role in the squad sparked up discussion, it was the new Torino goalkeeper who really stole the spotlight.
Although Southgate’s men only managed to get four points from the possible six, Joe Hart kept two clean sheets and performed an heroic double-touch save to salvage a point against Slovenia.
Despite the false note in Ljubljana, England are still top of Group F.