Power Ranking Top 30 Clubs by World Cup Performance
Club football is largely put on the back burner over the summer when international tournaments take place, with the 2014 World Cup occupying the attentions of almost everybody with a mind toward football over the past five or six weeks.
The managers, scouts and fans of some clubs, however, would be casting a keen eye over the form and fitness of their own players during the tournament—as well as prospective transfer targets, of course.
Just like four years ago when a core of Barcelona players provided the Spain squad which was successful in South Africa 2010, certain clubs have seen their stars enjoy more success at the 2014 finals than others. Here are the 30 top clubs, ranked by how well their players fared and how far they went during the World Cup.
We take into account those who participated at the finals, not unused substitutes, with more emphasis on those who appeared more frequently and went further in the tournament, not just appeared at the group phase. Players are assigned to the teams they played for at the end of last season, not their new clubs if they have made a subsequent transfer or their parent clubs if they were out on loan in 2013-14.
Four members of the Greek national team came from Olympiacos, with central defender Kostas Manolas impressing the most.
Midfielders Giannis Maniatis, Andreas Samaris and left-back Jose Holebas also played a big part in the Greece side's run to the round of 16.
FC Porto had a number of players at the finals, but they didn't really manage to shine.
Jackson Martinez and Juan Quintero were bit-part players with Colombia as they reached the quarter-finals, while Nabil Ghilas was likewise utilised into the last 16 with Algeria.
Hector Herrera was their stand-out player, though even he only managed the last 16 with Mexico.
Portuguese national player Silvestre Varela barely featured in the group phase and Belgian midfielder Steven Defour was sent off in his only appearance.
Liverpool could have been much further up the list had England made the latter stages, but their contingent featuring the likes of Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge did not make it past the groups.
Their best performer was France centre-back Mamadou Sakho, who was imperious until an ill-timed injury, as his side reached the last eight.
Elsewhere, on-loan forward Victor Moses reached the last 16 with Nigeria and Luis Suarez did the same with Uruguay, though he was suspended by that point. Kolo Toure only made the group phase and Simon Mignolet did not play for Belgium.
27. AC Milan
AC Milan's only two impressive performers at the finals were Nigel de Jong, a semifinalist with the Netherlands, and Cristian Zapata, a defender with Colombia in the quarterfinals.
Beyond that, the team provided only a handful of group stage performers, including striker Mario Balotelli with Italy and midfielders Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari with Ghana.
Keisuke Honda similarly only featured in the groups, with Japan.
26. Real Sociedad
Three Real Sociedad players each managed to have good impacts at the World Cup, making the knock-out stages in each case.
Haris Seferovic grabbed a priceless late winner for Switzerland to help them beat Ecuador in the groups, as they reached the last 16. Also going out at that stage was impressive Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who has since moved to Barcelona.
Finally, Antoine Griezmann was in great shape for France, as a starter and off the bench, as they made the last eight.
25. Sporting Lisbon
Two Sporting Lisbon players featured in the Portugal squad—William Carvalho and Rui Patricio—but the national side's performance was disappointing.
Instead, Islam Slimani provided an entertaining part of the Algeria team which reached the knockouts, eventually going out to World Cup winners Germany in the last 16.
Marcos Rojo was Argentina's left-back throughout the tournament, save for when suspended, as they finished as runners-up.
Everton's best performer at the World Cup was veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard, who broke a record for the most saves in one match and reached the last 16 with United States.
They also saw forwards Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku reach the quarterfinals with Belgium, though both were sporadic at best with their form.
Elsewhere, both Ross Barkley and Leighton Baines went out in the group phase with England.
Just two players made it into the knockout phase from Zenit St. Petersburg, but both went far.
Axel Witsel was instrumental in Belgium's midfield, helping them reach the quarterfinals with a series of good displays to protect the back four, while Hulk reached the semifinals with Brazil.
Their Russian contingent, including Aleksandr Kerzhakov, was extremely poor.
Ajax featured two of the most important members of the Dutch national team which finished the 2014 World Cup in third place.
Daley Blind performed admirably both at left wing-back and in the centre of defence when called upon, memorably providing the assist for Robin van Persie's diving header.
Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was similarly impressive with his footwork and made a few big saves for the Netherlands. Joel Veltman was the other member of the squad.
21. Borussia Dortmund
The majority of Borussia Dortmund's would-be World Cup stars fell away with injury, including Marco Reus.
Mats Hummels, however, was a World Cup winner at the heart of Germany's defence—one of the best defenders of the entire tournament in a side which only conceded four goals.
Sokratis Papastathopoulous also reached the knockouts with Greece.
AS Monaco provided two key performers to the World Cup: finalist goalkeeper Sergio Romero and Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez.
The latter scored six times and reached the quarterfinals with Colombia, losing to Brazil in their last eight match.
Romero played throughout with Argentina and kept a clean sheet in 90 minutes of the final—but was finally beaten just before the end of extra time. Joao Moutinho made a minimal impact with Portugal.
Like Dortmund, Schalke 04 only had two players to really make an impact at the finals—but both went far.
Benedikt Hoewedes was Germany's first-choice left-back throughout the World Cup, out of position but not out of place, as he picked up a winner's medal. Julian Draxler was a minor figure during the tournament.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was the Netherlands' man off the bench in attack, scoring a crucial goal in the last 16 and featuring regularly as sub as the Dutch finished third.
Now we move into the group of teams who had more stars going further in the tournament.
German club Wolfsburg are first up, having seen Swiss duo Ricardo Rodriguez and Diego Benaglio perform well and reach the last 16.
Luiz Gustavo was a regular in the centre of midfield for Brazil, who finished fourth, and Kevin De Bruyne of Belgium started the tournament in good form but didn't quite have the impact he would have wanted, as his side went out in the quarterfinals.
17. Inter Milan
Inter Milan saw three of their players perform into the knockout phase, though none were exactly first picks, instead more rotational options.
Hernanes reached the semifinals with Brazil and featured in the third-place playoff which his team lost, while Rodrigo Palacio was a substitute in the final with Argentina—who also lost their match.
Saphir Taider reached the last 16 with Algeria.
16. Borussia Moenchengladbach
Borussia Moenchengladbach had an unexpected starter in the World Cup final, as Christoph Kramer was handed the opportunity to replace Sami Khedira.
Kramer was injured after just half an hour, but still picked up a winner's medal for his nation.
Two more 'Gladbach stars reached the last 16, with Granit Xhaka a regular starter for Switzerland and Fabian Johnson a stand-out performer for USA.
Lazio found themselves with two players in the World Cup final: Argentina midfielder Lucas Biglia, who played the full 120 minutes, and Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who started and was subbed late in the match.
Klose of course picked up the winner's medal and also broke the all-time scoring record at World Cup finals.
Ogenyi Onazi with Nigeria was their other last-16 occupant.
Benfica found two of their players ending up as losing World Cup finalists, as Argentina pair Ezequiel Garay and Enzo Perez started the defeat to Germany.
Garay has since left the club and will play for Zenit next season.
Maxi Pereira was also a last-16 member of the Uruguay squad.
Juventus had a number of players at the tournament, but none progressed past the quarterfinals.
France midfielder Paul Pogba was the man who went farthest, with four players reaching the last 16.
Mauricio Isla and Arturo Vidal went out with Chile on penalties, Stephan Lichtsteiner's Switzerland were eliminated by Argentina and Martin Caceres saw his Uruguay team exit at the hands of Colombia. Juve's Italian contingent, including Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon, made a disappointing group stage exit.
Napoli somehow managed to account for players with almost half of the knockout nations at the World Cup.
Swiss trio Blerim Dzemaili, Valon Behrami and Gokhan Inler all reached the last 16, as did left-back Faouzi Ghoulam with Algeria. Dries Mertens (Belgium) and Juan Zuniga (Colombia) went one better, reaching the quarterfinals.
Finally, Gonzalo Higuain and Federico Fernandez both went all the way to the final with Argentina, with the former missing a great chance to score and having a goal ruled out for offside. Raul Albiol and Lorenzo Insigne were amongst their group-phase players.
11. Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid had five of their La Liga winners in the knockouts, but of course none were Spanish—Diego Costa, Juanfran and Koke all exited at the group stage.
Two Belgium players who were regulars in the run to the last eight were right-back Toby Alderweireld and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, while no less than three Uruguayans came from Atleti.
Diego Godin and Cristian Rodriguez were regulars as expected, while Jose Gimenez saw game time as a result of injuries to others, as the South American side reached the last 16.
10. Manchester United
Into the top 10, each of these sides had multiple players figuring in the latter stages and at least one in the semifinals—though most had a larger number.
Manchester United's best-performing player was Robin van Persie, who captained the Netherlands to third place and scored four goals along the way.
Two quarterfinalists in Marouane Fellaini and Patrice Evra were also regular players, with Adnan Januzaj little more than a bystander for Belgium. Mexican striker Javier Hernandez was a sub as his side reached the last 16. Wayne Rooney was amongst their group stage participants.
9. Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur saw Brazil midfielder Paulinho make regular starting appearances as they reached the semifinals, though he didn't excel with his personal form. Hugo Lloris was outstanding, on the other hand, as France exited at the quarterfinals.
Belgian duo Jan Vertonghen and Nacer Chadli also reached the last eight, while in the round of 16, Spurs had Nabil Bentaleb with Algeria.
Barcelona had four South American semifinalists, but none managed to taste victory.
Two Brazilians in Neymar and Dani Alves lost the third-place playoff and two Argentines—Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano—were in good form throughout the tournament, but lost the final.
The round of 16 saw Alexis Sanchez play his part for Chile, while a host of players flopped with Spain in the groups, including Gerard Pique and Xavi.
Feyenoord are perhaps a surprise top-10 entrant, but they supplied five of the Dutch defensive players who made it to third place at the World Cup.
Centre-backs Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi were regular starters, while Daryl Janmaat started and ended the tournament in the team, though came in and out as tactics dictated. Jordy Clasie only featured toward the end of the tournament in the knockouts, but played well in midfield against Brazil in the play-off match.
Terence Kongolo was a squad member who featured just once.
6. Real Madrid
Real Madrid had two would-be finalists, one on each side, with Sami Khedira ending as a winner—though he missed the actual game with an injury sustained in the warmup.
Angel Di Maria ended on the runner up team with Argentina, but similarly missed the final itself.
French duo Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema were instrumental in the run to the last eight, while Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso only featured at the group stage.
5. Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain had one finalist starter: Ezequiel Lavezzi of Argentina, who played his part before being substituted with the game still at 0-0.
Defenders Thiago Silva and Maxwell were in the Brazil squad, both playing in the third-place playoff, with Silva captaining the side to fourth. For France, PSG supplied Yohan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi to the regular starting XI, with Lucas Digne an onlooker from the sidelines.
In the round of 16, PSG's Edinson Cavani featured with Uruguay.
Arsenal provided three German finalists for the World Cup.
Mesut Ozil was a starter, playing a key role throughout the tournament in Germany's fluid attack, Per Mertesacker featured intermittently throughout both as a starter and sub and Lukas Podolski only played two games during the competition.
Two french quarterfinalists also came from the Gunners, centre-back Laurent Koscielny who played as a result of injury to first-choice Mamadou Sakho, along with Olivier Giroud, who likewise came in and out of the attack as tactics dictated. Group-stage players included Jack Wilshere.
Chelsea saw five players in the last four stage, with Andre Schurrle a winner with Germany.
Four Brazil squad players were provided from Stamford Bridge, with Ramires and Willian mainly featuring off the bench and Oscar, impressive but inconsistent, and David Luiz, woeful when it mattered most, regular starters.
2. Manchester City
In second place was Manchester City, who had three finalists on the pitch with Argentina.
Martin Demichelis and Pablo Zabaleta both started the game in defence, while Sergio Aguero came on as substitute as he continued to battle injury. All three, of course, ended as losing finalists.
One fourth-place Brazilian in Fernandinho also came from City, along with Belgian captain Vincent Kompany in the quarterfinals. Joe Hart and Edin Dzeko featured as group stage players.
1. Bayern Munich
Of course, Bayern Munich finish top of our pile.
The German giants provided no less than seven of the players who featured in the final itself for the national side, including winning goalscorer Mario Goetze, captain Philipp Lahm who lifted the trophy and the top scorer for the team, Thomas Mueller.
Along with top performers Jerome Boateng, Manuel Neuer and Bastian Schweinsteiger and many peoples' favourite for the Golden Ball, Toni Kroos, Bayern's stars had a World Cup to remember.
Bayern also provided Arjen Robben, who finished third with the Netherlands, and Belgian quarterfinalist Daniel van Buyten, while Xherdan Shaqiri and Julian Green made the round of 16 with Switzerland and USA respectively.
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