There could be parties in the streets of Madrid and Barcelona this summer if the CIES Football Observatory’s analysis comes to fruition.
In the Football Observatory’s latest weekly issue, it claims that Spain is most likely to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia based on a combination of two criteria. The percentage of matches played by the most-played 23 players on each national team at a domestic, league level, and the average sporting level of the clubs those players play for.
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The Football Observatory found that the Spanish National Team has played in 81 percent of the available domestic league matches, and with so many playing for giants Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City, the overall sporting level of the team was listed at a jaw-dropping 1.37. These criteria have Spain as the overwhelming favorite to win the World Cup.
Brazil (89), France (84) and Germany (82) each had a power index of over 80, though the Les Bleus squad has played the fewest domestic league matches of the top four (69 percent). England, with a power index of 74, rounds out the top five.
Panama, set to make its World Cup debut, sits at the bottom of the list with a power index of just 12, as many of their top players either have been injured or are sitting on the bench at bigger clubs.
Of course, while it’s good for players to play regularly at a high level, we’ve seen in recent World Cups that end-of-season burnout is a real problem, and teams with players who are fresher in June and July have been able to run to the title. Both Spain and Germany, the last two World Cup winners, have winter breaks in their domestic calendar, while England of course, does not.