by Walter Broeckx
Someone said over here in the comment section that when the French team was one of the best in the world, we won things. And now that the French team is not at their best any more we don’t win things any more. So is there a link somewhere?
So let us just take a look at the Fifa world ranking as it stood in April. I think we will see some adjustments after the world cup but now we can only work with the things we have.
1. Brazil 2. Spain 3. Portugal 4. Netherlands 5. Italy 6. Germany 7. Argentina 8. England
9. France 10. Croatia 11. Russia 12. Egypt 13. Greece 14. USA 15. Serbia 16. Uruguay
17. Mexico 18. Chile 19. Cameroon 20. Australia
So if the assumption would be a right one, that you must have a lot of players from the best team(s) in the world in your team to win things it should mean that you must have a lot of Brazilian players in your team. I will only take the players in account that can be considered as more or less regular starters because you can have a full reserve team with Brazilians but if they don’t play in the league this means nothing.
We only had one Brazilian player in our team so that shouldn’t have been enough to win things. But how many Brazilians had Chelsea in their team? Also only one and Alex has played 16 games as a starter for Chelsea. So not that impressive I would say.
And Alex, just like Denilson, is not in the Brazilian team for the world cup. MIOU has 3 Brazilians in their squad and maybe Anderson is the most played of them but he also is not a regular starter for them most of the time. So none of the top 3 in the EPL has any real big players from Brazil, the best team in the world, in their team.
If we take number 2 Spain I can be very brief. We are the only one that have a Spanish player in the team. Liverpool in fact has a few but it clearly didn’t help them this season. Chelsea and MIOU have no Spanish players in their teams.
Next in line is Portugal and this is a country we have no players from. Chelsea have Deco, Carvalho, Bosingwa and Ferreira. But none of them have played half of the games that Chelsea was involved in the EPL. You could call them squad players but they are not the players that will be on the team sheet every day and without any hesitation.
MIOU have Nani and he should have been at the world cup. But for some strange reason he was sent home just a few days before the start of the world cup. In the media there have been some rumours doing the round about steroids but nothing can be proven off course. But in general one could say that having a lot of Portuguese players in your squad was helpful to winning the title although it is clear they were not the main reason for winning the title for Chelsea.
If we look at Holland we had Van Persie, or should I say we didn’t have him because of his long spell at the sidelines with an injury. Man IOU have Van der Sar, who also was out for a while at the start of the season but for the rest not really a big influence from these countries.
No Italian players were really involved in the top 3 last season so I can skip them. The next team in the list is Germany and there was one player involved: Ballack. But he has been told he can go away next season. But he did play a major part in their season. No German players at Arsenal not at MIOU.
As with the Italians it is the same thing with the Argentines: nothing to report.
Next on the Fifa ranking is England in place 8 and now we could see a difference. Chelsea has Terry, Lampard, Cole and Cole, all English internationals and when fit they mostly start. If we look at MIOU they have Ferdinand, Neville, Scholes, Brown, Carrick and Rooney as their English players. We only have Walcott and this season it is the same as with Van Persie : did we really have him?
After England we have France in 9th place. We have a lot of French players: Sagna, Gallas, Clichy, Diaby and Nasri. And Chelsea have Anelka and Malouda. And MIOU have only Evra to show. So the French team could be in decline but Anelka and Malouda played a very big and important part in Chelsea’s successful season.
For the rest of the top 20 it is that every team has the odd player from some country’s but they do not play a very big part in the team.
What could be the main conclusions? I would say that it surely helps when you have a lot of players from the best countries. But to win the EPL you don’t have to load your team with players from the 2 best countries, Brazil and Spain, as the title was won almost without players from over there. Portuguese players are maybe a bit more handy to win things but you don’t even have to play them a lot.
Another conclusion is that all teams have become very diverse if you look at all the nationalities they have and I think it is more important to find the right balance in the team and that it doesn’t matter a lot from where they come. In fact MIOU has a more English spine than Chelsea but still Chelsea won the title and the cup, so some English players can do nicely but only the best will do the job.
And to finish it off and to take a look outside the EPL: if you look at Inter, the most successful team in Europe last season, you can see that they do have a Brazilian spine but it is a defensive spine in fact not an attacking one. With Julio Ceasar, Maicon, Lucio and Thiago Motta they have a defence build in Brazil. Also keep in mind that Inter has almost no Italian players in their starting team. But there also a very mixed team when you look at the countries they come from.