World Cup Russia 2018 Manchester City have the most players followed by Madrid Barcelona

Gab Marcotti and the FC crew debate whether Spain’s lack of a clinical No. 9 will prove detrimental to their hopes of winning another World Cup.
The FC crew discuss how Neymar’s health factors into Brazil’s chances to win the World Cup after his goal against Croatia in his return from injury.
The FC crew talk about England’s attacking threat, but are far more worried of their defensive woes ahead of the World Cup.
ESPN Craig Burley and Stevie Nicol are not hitting the panic button on Germany after yet another friendly defeat to Austria.

Manchester City ruled the Premier League in 2017-18 and now they’re taking over the world. ESPN FC has crunched the numbers and Pep Guardiola’s men are out in front with 16 players going to Russia.

Champions League winners Real Madrid are next on the list, with Cristiano Ronaldo looking to add the World Cup to the Euro 2016 title he helped Portugal land, and are followed by plenty more European heavyweights; Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United are among those sending more than 10 players. 

1. Manchester City (16) 

Ederson, Fernandinho, Danilo, Gabriel Jesus (Brazil); John Stones, Kyle Walker, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling (England); Nicolas Otamendi, Sergio Aguero (Argentina); Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium); Benjamin Mendy (France); Ilkay Gundogan (Germany); Bernardo Silva (Portugal); David Silva (Spain).

2. Real Madrid (15)

Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Nacho, Isco, Marco Asensio (Spain); Marcelo, Casemiro (Brazil); Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic (Croatia); Keylor Navas (Costa Rica); Raphael Varane (France); Toni Kroos (Germany); Achraf Hakimi (Morocco); Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).

3. Barcelona (14)

Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta (Spain); Paulinho, Philippe Coutinho (Brazil); Samuel Umtiti, Ousmane Dembele (France); Lionel Messi (Argentina); Thomas Vermaelen (Belgium); Yerry Mina (Colombia); Ivan Rakitic (Croatia); Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany); Luis Suarez (Uruguay).

4=. Paris Saint-Germain (12)

Alphonse Areola, Presnel Kimpembe, Kylian Mbappe (France); Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Neymar (Brazil); Giovani Lo Celso, Angel Di Maria, (Argentina); Kevin Trapp, Julian Draxler (Germany); Thomas Meunier (Belgium); Edinson Cavani (Uruguay).

4=. Chelsea (12)

Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard (Belgium); Gary Cahill, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (England); N’Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud (France); Willy Caballero (Argentina); Willian (Brazil); Andreas Christensen (Denmark); Antonio Rudiger (Germany); Victor Moses (Nigeria); Cesar Azpilicueta (Spain).

6=. Tottenham (11)

Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Harry Kane (England); Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele (Belgium), Davinson Sanchez (Colombia); Hugo Lloris (France); Son Heung-Min (South Korea).

6=. Juventus (11)

Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina); Douglas Costa (Brazil); Juan Cuadrado (Colombia); Mario Mandzukic (Croatia); Blaise Matuidi (France); Sami Khedira (Germany); Medhi Benatia (Morocco); Wojciech Szczesny (Poland); Stephan Lichtsteiner (Switzerland); Rodrigo Bentancur (Uruguay).

6=. Manchester United (11)

Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard (England); Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku (Belgium); Marcos Rojo (Argentina); Paul Pogba (France); Nemanja Matic (Serbia); David De Gea (Spain); Victor Lindelof (Sweden).

6=. Bayern Munich (11)

Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Niklas Sule, Thomas Muller (Germany); James Rodriguez (Colombia); Corentin Tolisso (France); Robert Lewandowski (Poland); Thiago Alcantara (Spain).

10. Atletico Madrid (9)

Koke, Saul Niguez, Diego Costa (Spain); Lucas Hernandez, Antoine Griezmann (France); Jose Gimenez, Diego Godin (Uruguay); Filipe Luis (Brazil); Sime Vrsaljko (Croatia).

City could have been further ahead, had Leroy Sane not been the shock exclusion from Joachim Low’s Germany squad to defend the trophy they won in Brazil four years ago. 

Lionel Messi gets another crack at landing the World Cup, the big one that has eluded him so far after heartbreak in the 2014 final to Germany, while Brazil will look to Paris Saint-Germain ace Neymar, back from injury and looking sharp, to deliver a historic title.

The month-long showdown in Russia comes at the end of a gruelling domestic season for the world’s top players. Messi heads to Russia having played the most minutes out of the top 10 players from the Ballon d’Or vote last year:

1. Messi (4,468)
2. Kante (4,177)
3. Kane (3,953)
4. Lewandowski (3,757)
5. Ramos (3,731)
6. Ronaldo (3,678)
7. Mbappe (3,554)
8. Modric (3,339)
9. Neymar (2,697)
10. Buffon (Did Not Qualify)

*Figures from transfermarkt.

Messi played more minutes than his rivals, with Ronaldo ranked sixth. Argentina’s great hope eventually was rested towards the end of the season … and Barcelona promptly saw their unbeaten run go up in smoke with a 5-4 defeat at Levante. 

The tournament kicks off on June 14 and all the squads can be found here.