The World Cup starts this Sunday as the Spanish top flight pauses for seven weeks. It’ll be a strange period for just about everyone involved and LaLiga clubs are trying to make plans to ensure they come back in the best possible shape in late December.
Those plans will vary from club to club. Some of the big clubs will be missing much of the squad for the next few weeks at least. Meanwhile many teams are barely impacted in terms of players going off to Qatar and will, after a brief rest, have what will effectively feel like a pre-season to negotiate.
Many friendlies have already been planned to ensure players remain sharp during the period, while it will be an opportunity for several recently appointed coaches like Quique Setien, Carlos Carvalhal and Jorge Sampaoli to really try to get their ideas across.
Which LaLiga Players are heading to the World Cup?
|Ecuador||Gonzalo Plata (Real Valladolid)|
|Netherlands||Memphis Depay & Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)|
|Senegal||Youssouf Sabaly (Betis), Pathé Ciss (Rayo), Nicolas Jackson (Villarreal)|
Hosts Qatar have a Spanish coach in the shape of Félix Sánchez but an entirely domestic-based squad. Barcelona’s Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong are the big LaLiga names in this group but Real Valladolid’s Gonzalo Plata could feature prominently for Ecuador while there are three players from Spanish clubs in the Senegal squad including Villarreal’s uncapped youngster Nicolas Jackson.
|Iran||Amir Abedzadeh (Ponferradina)|
|USA||Yunus Musah (Valencia), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo)|
Group B is not a big one when it comes to LaLiga interest. Valencia’s Yunus Musah is the most recognisable name but even he may not be a starter for the United States. Ponferradina goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh ensures there is second tier representation at the tournament although it’s doubtful he will see any gametime.
|Argentina||Gonzalo Montiel, Marcos Acuña & Papu Gómez (Sevilla), Germán Pezzella & Guido Rodríguez (Betis), Nahuel Molina & Rodrigo De Paul (Atlético Madrid), Juan Foyth & Gerónimo Rulli (Villarreal)|
|Mexico||Andrés Guardado (Betis)|
|Poland||Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)|
Sevilla’s slow start to the season hasn’t prevented three of their players making the Argentina squad. Neighbours Real Betis also contribute two players for La Albiceleste while the same goes for Atlético Madrid and Villarreal. Those Betis players could come up against teammate Andrés Guardado who captains the Mexico squad and will be hoping to add to his impressive haul of 177 caps. The 36 year old is not the only Spain-based captain in this group with Robert Lewandowski set to spearhead Poland’s challenge.
|France||Karim Benzema, Aurélien Tchouaméni & Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Ousmane Dembélé & Jules Koundé (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid)|
|Australia||Awer Mabil (Cádiz)|
|Denmark||Kasper Dolberg & Thomas Delaney (Sevilla), Martin Braithwaite (Espanyol), Andreas Christensen (Barcelona)|
LaLiga’s “Big 3” contribute six players to a star-studded French squad and injuries to the likes of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté suggest as many as five of those players may start for Didier Deschamps’ side in Qatar. Elsewhere, we might see more of Awer Mabil for the Socceroos than we have at Cádiz so far with the winger largely unused by Sergio this season. There are also four players from LaLiga in what should be a competitive Denmark squad.
|Spain||Pedri, Ansu Fati, Jordi Alba, Ferran Torres, Gavi, Sergio Busquets & Eric García (Barcelona), Koke, Álvaro Morata & Marcos Llorente (Atlético Madrid), Unai Simón & Nico Williams (Athletic Club), José Gayà & Hugo Guillamón (Valencia), Marco Asensio & Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Pau Torres & Yeremy Pino (Villarreal)|
|Costa Rica||Patrick Sequeira (Lugo)|
|Germany||Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona), Antonio Rüdiger (Real Madrid)|
|Japan||Take Kubo (Real Sociedad), Gaku Shibasaki (Leganés)|
Despite the large numbers of Spanish players plying their trade abroad, Luis Enrique has mostly gone with LaLiga players in his squad with 18 of the 26 based in Spain. There is the potential for a few teammates to face each other, although for the other three teams in Group E, only Antonio Rüdiger looks a certain starter at this point from the LaLiga contingent. Take Kubo’s regular gametime in Donostia has done his chances of featuring for Japan no harm though.
|Belgium||Thibaut Courtois & Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Axel Witsel & Yannick Carrasco (Atlético Madrid)|
|Morocco||Bono & Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla), Abde Ez (Osasuna), Jawad El Yamiq (Real Valladolid)|
|Croatia||Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Ivo Grbić (Atlético Madrid), Ante Budimir (Osasuna)|
Group F is another big one from a LaLiga perspective with Belgium, Croatia and Morocco all having some important players who ply their trade in Spain. At 37, Luka Modrić is hoping to repeat his form from the 2018 tournament when he inspired Croatia to a surprise Final appearance. This may also be the last shot at World Cup glory for Belgium’s golden generation and the Red Devils will be desperately hoping Eden Hazard can rediscover a bit of form in Qatar. The group should also see Sevilla duo Bono and Youssef En-Nesyri feature heavily for Morocco.
|Brazil||Viní Júnior, Rodrygo & Éder Militão (Real Madrid), Raphinha (Barcelona), Alex Telles (Sevilla)|
|Serbia||Marko Dmitrović & Nemanja Gudelj (Sevilla), Stefan Mitrović & Nemanja Maksimović (Getafe), Predrag Rajković (Mallorca), Srđan Babić (Almería)|
|Switzerland||Eray Cömert (Valencia)|
Brazil head into the World Cup as the bookmakers’ favourites and they’ll be looking to their Real Madrid contingent in particular to shine for them. Viní Júnior will see this as his chance to truly announce himself on the international stage, although like clubmate Rodyrgo, he only has one international goal to his name heading into the tournament opener. That will be against Serbia who have a host of LaLiga players in their squad, although most will be benchwarmers rather than key men.
|Portugal||João Félix (Atlético Madrid), William Carvalho (Betis)|
|Ghana||Iñaki Williams (Athletic Club), Joseph Aidoo (Celta Vigo)|
|Uruguay||José Giménez (Atlético Madrid), Ronald Araújo (Barcelona), Fede Valverde (Real Madrid), Edinson Cavani (Valencia)|
|South Korea||Lee Kang-in (Mallorca)|
Group H is the only group where all four teams have at least one player from LaLiga Santander and it promises to be one of the most open and interesting groups too. Uruguay’s starting XI should feature José Giménez, Ronald Araújo and in-form Fede Valverde. For Portugal, William Carvalho is likely to feature in midfield while João Félix may have a harder time breaking into the team, but should get opportunities. It’ll also be really interesting to see how Iñaki Williams gets on in Ghana colours with the Athletic forward having recently made the switch to represent the West African nation.
Which LaLiga clubs will have the most players in Qatar?
40 of the 83 LaLiga players involved in the 2022 World Cup come from the “big three” of Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid and Barcelona. Sevilla are the other Spanish club with a really large contingent heading off to the Middle East with 10 of their players involved in the tournament which isn’t ideal for Jorge Sampaoli with his team currently in the relegation zone.
In terms of the clubs least affected by the World Cup, Girona and Elche are the only two in the Spanish top flight without any players at the tournament. High-flying Real Sociedad also stand out somewhat with only one player going to Qatar (Take Kubo) after the likes of Mikel Merino, Brais Méndez and Martín Zubimendi missed out on the Spain squad while Mikel Oyarzabal is still injured. It’ll be interesting to see whether that offers the likes of La Real an advantage when LaLiga returns or whether we might see the opposite effect where match sharp World Cup players initially have a slight edge.
In addition to the 83 currently plying their trade in the top flight, three Segunda División players (Gaku Shibasaki, Patrick Sequeira and Amir Abedzadeh) will also be in Qatar which presents a slightly bigger problem for their clubs given the Spanish second tier is continuing throughout the tournament.