Saturday 16 December 2017

Champions League no-show for Gareth Southgate's England

Gareth Southgate's squad is lacking top-level European exposure this season
Gareth Southgate's squad is lacking top-level European exposure this season

Gareth Southgate's England squad lag behind Europe's other leading nations - and even South American pair Brazil and Argentina - in exposure to this season's Champions League.

Of the original 26-man group named by Southgate to face Germany and Lithuania - before Michail Antonio's withdrawal - only seven have played in the competition proper this season.

There are mitigating circumstances - Tottenham pair Harry Kane and Danny Rose are currently absent through injury while it is unusual to see none of Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, who between them provide eight of the England squad, in the Champions League.

But Italy, the only squad close to England's numbers in the Press Association Sport study, could say the same about Inter and AC Milan while Roma crashed out in the qualifying stage.

Brazil and Argentina can both boast double figures, even without considering South America's own elite competition the Copa Libertadores.

Large Paris St Germain and Monaco contingents see the France squad top the chart ahead of Euro 2016 champions Portugal, Spain and Germany.

Coupled with the ongoing lack of English players in regular Premier League action - just over a third of players in the weekend's starting line-ups, or around four per team, were eligible for Southgate's squad - it highlights the selection problems facing the England boss.

Here are the key facts from the study (all figures relate to the original squad named by each country and to Champions League appearances from the group stage onwards - injury replacements and Champions League qualifying rounds were not considered):

:: Spurs trio Kyle Walker, Eric Dier and Dele Alli, Manchester City pair John Stones and Raheem Sterling, Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Leicester striker Jamie Vardy are the only England squad members to feature.

:: Italy also had just seven representatives, including four from Juventus, in the original 25-man squad named. Manolo Gabbiadini, who played in Europe for Napoli before his move to Southampton, has since pulled out due to injury.

:: An impressive 21 of France's 25-man selection (84 per cent) have featured in the Champions League, the only exceptions being N'Golo Kante - who qualified for the competition with Leicester before leaving for Chelsea - Marseille pair Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin, and third-choice goalkeeper Benoit Costil.

:: Spain and Portugal have identical representation - 17 out of a squad of 25, or 68 per cent. Germany are just behind with 63 per cent, or 15 of 24.

:: Ten players each from Brazil's 23-man squad and Argentina's 26 have played in this season's Champions League. Manchester City have four players from the two South American superpowers, while PSG, Barcelona and Juventus have each called on three players.

Press Association

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