No other league in world football can say the same at this summer’s tournament in Russia.
The official 23-man squad lists for the 2018 World Cup have been released by FIFA and 80 of the 736 players going to Russia played for a LaLiga Santander club during the 2017/18 season. In other words, one out every nine players at the tournament has been playing their football in the Spanish top flight. Adding in Numancia and Morocco goalkeeper Munir, who played in second tier LaLiga 1l2l3 this season, there will be a record 81 players taking part in Russia who have called Spain home in 2017/18.
Even more remarkably, each of LaLiga Santander’s 20 teams are sending at least one player, a feat unmatched by any other league in world football.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are the two teams sending the most players to Russia, with 15 and 14 respectively. Logically, many of these two teams’ internationals will be representing Spain, with Dani Carvajal, Nacho, Lucas Vázquez, Sergio Ramos, Marco Asensio, Isco, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta and Jordi Alba all part of Julen Lopetegui’s squad. Yet there will be several other Real and Barça stars going to Russia to represent their countries, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi.
Impressively, every single LaLiga Santander club has at least one representative, not just the Blancos and the Blaugrana. Atlético Madrid, for example, have nine players going to Russia, including the Spanish trio of Saúl Ñíguez, Koke and Diego Costa, Uruguayan centre-back duo Diego Godin and José Maria Gimenez and French superstar Antoine Griezmann.
Sevilla (with six players going), Deportivo La Coruña (five), Villarreal (four), Girona (three), Real Sociedad (three), Celta Vigo (three), Valencia (two), Real Betis (two), Getafe (two), Eibar (two), Espanyol (two), Levante (two) and Leganés (two) will all have multiple representatives in Russia as well.
There are four 2017/18 LaLiga clubs who have one player going, someone their fans can excitedly watch take on the best international teams. Kepa will be flying the flag for Athletic Club in the Spain squad, Alaves’s Swedish striker John Guidetti will be representing the team from Vitoria, Málaga’s exciting 21-year-old forward Youssef En-Nesyri is in Morocco’s squad and Las Palmas’ Oghenekaro Etebo will have to come up against Messi once again, this time for Nigeria against Argentina in Group D.
Of the 80 LaLiga Santander players going to the tournament, 17 of them will be playing for Spain and 63 of them will be doing so for other national teams. Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and Uruguay will all have a least one LaLiga-based player in their ranks, meaning that there will be just 10 nations at the World Cup without a player from the top tier of Spanish football.
LaLiga is always well represented at the World Cup, but this year’s edition will have a distinctly Spanish feel to it.