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England fifth favourites to win 2018 World Cup, according to report

Gareth Southgate has been encouraged by England's recent performances
Image: Gareth Southgate is looking to become only the second England manager to win the World Cup

England are fifth favourites to win the World Cup, according to research group CIES Football Observatory.

Their study looked at the number of matches players were involved in at domestic league level since July 2017 and the profile of clubs that they featured for, with 2010 winners Spain topping the list ahead of Brazil and France.

Reigning champions Germany were fourth in the table while CIES found England were more likely to lift the trophy than their Group G rivals Belgium, 2014 runners-up Argentina or Euro 2016 champions Portugal.

Germany won the World Cup in 2014
Image: Holders Germany are only fourth favourites

The Three Lions players used most frequently during qualifying appeared in 74 per cent of domestic league matches - a figure only bettered by Spain, Brazil, Denmark and Japan.

The 23 players used most often by Spain in the qualification stage played on average 81.1 per cent of domestic league games, the highest figure of all 32 nations who will compete at Russia 2018.

Furthermore, their "average sporting level of the clubs" is the greatest given their squad comprises players from teams like back-to-back Champions League winners Real Madrid, La Liga champions Barcelona and recently-crowned Premier League title winners Manchester City.

Alli only played 22 minutes for England during the 
 recent international break
Image: Dele Alli is one of England's younger players at the age 22

Panama, who England face in their second group game in Russia, should be considered the rank outsiders with their squad the oldest in qualifying with an average age of 29.4 whereas England's average was 25.9, the third-youngest above only Germany and Nigeria.

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All of the players Southgate used during qualifying represented clubs in England, with Saudi Arabia the only other country that selected players exclusively from its domestic league.

From the teams that have advanced to Russia, 164 players involved in qualifying ply their trade in England, 15.3 per cent of the total and the most ahead of Spain (94 players) and Germany (90 players).

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