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Spain the dominant force in providing Champions League players


By Sportingintelligence

12 September 2011

The Champions League 2011-12 group stage commences this week involving players from 68 different countries, with world champions Spain contributing more players – 81 of them – than any other nation.

France contributes the next most among the 32 teams in the group stage, with 77 players, followed by Brazil (69), Germany (60), Argentina (45), England (42) and Italy (41). No other nation has more than 30 players. Brazil’s key role in elite European football was touched on in this feature in March.

The new figures come from analysis by the CIES Football Observatory, and other analysis of the sqauad make-ups can be see by clicking on this link.

Some other findings:

  • Milan have the oldest squad (average age 29.69 years) and Ajax have the youngest squad (23.61 years on average).
  • Barcelona have the shortest squad (178.53 cm on average) and Bayer Leverkusen have the tallest (185.58 cm over average).
  • Chelsea have the most experience Champions League squad, with their players averaging 35.17 Champions League games each. Viktoria Plzen are least experienced (ave. 0.17 games).
  • CSKA Moscow have the most ‘stable squad’, with players averaging 3.76 years at the club. Olympiacos at the other extreme have players averaging less than a year.

Of the major contenders for the 2011-12 title, Barcelona have the 22nd oldest squad (12th youngest); the shortest squad; the fifth most stable (3.19 years on average at the club); and the third most experienced Champions League squad (28.06 games).

Chelsea have the sixth oldest squad and come in the top two places in height, stability and experience.

Manchester United have the 18th oldest squad, the 15th tallest, the third most stable (after CSKA and Chelsea) and the fifth most experienced (after Chelsea, Milan, Barca and Internazionale).

Champions League debutants Manchester City have the 23rd oldest squad, the sixth tallest, the 19th most stable (average under two years at the club) and the 11th most experienced in the competition.

As we reported last week, experience has generally proved to be a key indicator of success at domestic level.

CIES studies the origins, training, experience, employment mobility and performance of players across Europe, with its latest Annual Review of the European Football Players’ Labour Market available to buy now (link here, where a free extract can also be downloaded).

A PDF detailing the analysis of the all the squads can be found by following this link to


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