Ranking the Top 10 Leagues by World Cup Performance
When the 2014 World Cup All Star team was announced, it was not surprising that the Bundesliga claimed more than half of the 11 spots on offer.
Second—the only other division with more than one spot—was France’s Ligue 1 with two. Then came England’s Premier League, Portugal’s Primeira Liga and the Netherlands’ Eredivisie.
Spain—widely regarded as one of the top football league nations in the world and majority supplier of the 2010 World Cup winners—was conspicuously absent.
Which is why they don’t top the following list.
Over the next few slides we’ll rank the top national divisions represented at the 2014 World Cup, based on performance at the tournament.
10. Serie A (Brazil)
Both Brazil’s backup goalkeepers played their club football in Brazil’s Serie A last season, as did strikers Fred and Jo.
But beyond the Brazilian national team, the country’s top flight was also represented by Uruguay pair Alvaro Pereira and Nicolas Lodeiro and Chile trio Eugenio Mena, Jorge Valdivia and Charles Aranguiz.
9. Russian Premier League (Russia)
Russia sent the only fully-domestic squad to the 2014 World Cup, and their position in this ranking would have been significantly higher had they progressed from the group stage.
But Brazil’s Hulk also represented the Russian Premier League over the course of the competition, as did Belgium’s Nicolas Lombaerts and Axel Witsel.
8. Liga MX (Mexico)
That the Mexican league is the richest in the Americas is news to no one, and at the 2014 World Cup the country’s top division provided the vast majority of players to El Tri, including key contributors such as Rafael Marquez, Miguel Layun and Oribe Peralta.
Ecuador striker Enner Valencia, who will soon join West Ham United in England according to the Press Association (via the Guardian), also arrived in Brazil on the back of a spell in Mexico.
7. Primera Division (Costa Rica)
Costa what? Believe it.
When your top flight helps put a team into the quarter-final round of a World Cup, its earned a position on this list.
As the Ticos progressed through the competition, the likes of Johnny Acosta, Michael Umana, and Yeltsin Tejeda represented their domestic division with pride.
6. Eredivisie (Netherlands)
That the Netherlands so exceeded expectations at the 2014 World Cup had a lot to do with the performances of their home-based players.
From the get-go, Jasper Cillessen, Bruno Martins Indi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Daley Blind and Daryl Janmaat (who is set to join Newcastle according to Louise Taylor of the Guardian) were key players in manager Louis van Gaal’s setup.
5. Serie A (Italy)
That the Italian national team went out at the group stage and its highest domestic league still rings in at number five speaks to the quality of players from various nations that grace Serie A on a regular basis.
Argentina’s Lucas Biglia, Gonzalo Higuain and Rodrigo Palacio represented the league in the World Cup final, and the tricolor was also flown by footballers throughout the tournament, including Colombia trio Fredy Guarin, Victor Ibarbo and Juan Guillermo Cuadrado.
4. Ligue 1 (France)
The rising strength of Ligue 1 was certainly felt in Brazil.
Thiago Silva, the Selecao captain, represented Paris Saint-Germain, as did newly-acquired defender David Luiz.
Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi also flew the flag for PSG, as did Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani.
Then there was Monaco’s James Rodriguez, who won the Golden Ball, and Lille’s Divock Origi, who impressed for Belgium.
3. La Liga (Spain)
Despite the nation being eliminated after just two matches, Spain’s Primera Division left its mark on the World Cup through the sheer number of its players that progressed through the future rounds.
Brazil’s Neymar, Marcelo and Daniel Alves represented La Liga for Brazil; Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema did the same for France.
The final featured Barcelona pair Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, and a handful of injured players, including Angel Di Maria and Sami Khedira, watched from the sidelines.
2. Premier League (England)
The English Premier League was represented in the World Cup final by Germany’s Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Andre Schurrle and Lukas Podolski, as well as Argentina’s Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis and Sergio Aguero.
1. Bundesliga (Germany)
Of Germany’s 23 players at the 2014 World Cup, 16 represented the country’s top flight and eight of them featured in the final.
But the Bundesliga’s power was evident in other national sides as well.
Netherlands attacker Arjen Robben, for instance, represented Bayern Munich, as did Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri, and Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne represented Wolfsburg.