With the Qatar World Cup in full blast this week, a lot of hardcore football fans will have the following question on their minds: does more money translate into more success? The leverage that money brings to the table is well documented at the club level, but do they pan out on the world stage? These are the five most valuable teams at the Qatar World Cup — let’s see how accurately their talent is valued.
Squad Value: €1.74 billion
FIFA Ranking: 5
This team is certainly overvalued. The midfield tandem of Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice are scarily good, yet Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Henderson are both prone to injury and lack consistency. Nevertheless, the team’s attack is very impressive, with star players like Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, as well as some underrated players like Callum Wilson and James Maddison.
Their defense is the clear area of concern. Harry Maguire has been far from his best, and barely comes off the Manchester United bench, while Eric Dier and John Stones are very inconsistent. Trent Alexander-Arnold is certainly overrated — he provides great attacking opportunities, but is defensively unreliable. The team’s defense is not all bad, however; with outstanding performances on both the defensive and attacking end, Kieran Trippier has been instrumental to Newcastle’s success this season. Additionally, Conor Coady feels underrated — he’s reportedly a big morale booster in the squad.
Squad Value: €1.14 billion
FIFA Ranking: 1
Thanks to incredible talents like Neymar Jr. and Vinicius Jr, Brazil’s attackers provide roughly half of Brazil’s squad value, and it’s hard to suggest that any of them are overrated. Additionally, as he plays in the Brazilian league, away from most international scrutiny, Pedro Santos, from Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, actually feels underrated.
On the defensive end, Ederson de Moraes and Alisson Becker are both stellar goalkeepers, yet Brazil has also bizarrely selected 39-year-old Dani Alves for right back. Thiago Silva is 38, but still performs well for Chelsea and is certainly an underrated player, but Alves has been selected purely for being “one of the captains of the team.” Nevertheless, Marcos (Marquinhos) Corrêa and Eder Militao are both solid choices. Furthermore, with Bruno Guimarães and Carlos Casimiro, the midfield is still strong.
Squad Value: €1.08 billion
FIFA Ranking: 4
The reigning champions have a squad that is pretty well balanced between young talent and veterans.
Antoine Griezmann has struggled in recent years and his value is certainly declining. However, it’s impossible to deny the strength of rising star Kylian Mbappé. Furthermore, Olivier Giroud is certainly underrated, given that he has consistently performed well for France and plays exceptionally for AC Milan.
Meanwhile, Aurélien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga have both been excellent for Real Madrid and have a lot of potential, but this will be their first international tournament, which brings their value into question. Nevertheless, the defense, with the Hernández brothers, William Saliba, and Raphaël Varane is still solid. Specifically, Benjamin Pavard is underrated — he was outstanding at the last World Cup.
Squad Value: €937 million
FIFA Ranking: 9
Portugal’s team is dominated by young talent. Raphael Leão is talented, yet João Félix feels overrated given that he has never impressed while at Atletico Madrid. Both William Carvalho and João Mario are aging and certainly overrated, while Bruno Fernandes’ performances have improved.
Surprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo is underrated despite the critiques that he’s been getting lately. Ronaldo is 37 and barely playing at Manchester United. Furthermore, after his controversial interview with Piers Morgan, Ronaldo will likely be without a team and facing a hefty lawsuit once the World Cup ends. Yet, despite the drama, ultimately Ronaldo is still the top scorer of all time in international soccer and it’s impossible to bet against him. Away from Manchester and in an environment where he feels respected, Ronaldo could thrive.
Squad Value: €877 million
FIFA Ranking: 7
While there is a lot of talent, this team is very unbalanced. The midfield is headlined by Barcelona teenagers Pedro López and Pablo Gavira, along with 34-year-old Sergio Busquets — who is still an incredible player despite his age. Spain’s midfield is easily one of the most formidable in the world.
In comparison, the attack and defense simply feel empty. Álvaro Morata has never been a consistent goalscorer, yet is somehow the best attacker among those selected. Additionally, Jordi Alba and Daniel Carvajal have experience, but aren’t as impactful as Busquets.
Furthermore, Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea surprisingly didn’t even make the initial 50-player shortlist. Taking his place is Unai Simón, who despite impressing at Euro 2020, still lacks the vast experience de Gea wields. This decision to trust Simón is worrisome considering how empty the Spanish defense already is and the opponents Spain could face — including Germany in the group stage.
Does money matter?
France had a whopping squad value of €1.08 billion when they won in 2018 — they were the most valuable team.
Yet, money doesn’t win games — performances do. The Italian national team is the seventh most valuable in the world, worth €585.5 million. In contrast, the Canadian national team is worth €187.30 million, with Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David accounting for more than half of that figure. And yet, Italy didn’t qualify for the World Cup — Canada did.
While the most valuable team won in 2018, the most valuable team did not win in 2014 — Germany did, famously crushing the fourth-most valuable team, Brazil, on their way to victory. While money can be a good predictor of success, it cannot guarantee it.