NEW YORK – The jostling for positions is over, the squads declared, and 736 players have been given the ultimate honour of representing their country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
But who on that long list catches the eye, and for what reason? Here, takes a closer look at the numbers behind the men doing battle in Brazil.
236 of the players at Brazil 2014 have been called up to at least one previous FIFA World Cup. Spain lead the way in this respect with 16 World Cup veterans, with Uruguay (15) and Cameroon (13) second and third respectively. Of the Brazil-bound players, Faryd Mondragon has the lengthiest World Cup history, having made his debut at USA 1994. The Colombia keeper was also present at France 1998 alongside Samuel Eto’o and Gianluigi Buffon, who has become just the third player – after Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal and Germany legend Lothar Matthaus – to be called up for a fifth World Cup.
100 per cent of Russia’s players – a record at Brazil 2014 – play in the country’s domestic leagues. England are only narrowly behind on 95.6 per cent, with 22 of their 23 players – Celtic’s Fraser Forster being the sole exception – operating at home. By contrast, just 4.3 per cent of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Uruguay’s players – in other words, one of the 23 – play their club football in the nation they will be representing.
58 players will celebrate their birthday over the course of Brazil 2014. First to blow out their candles, on 12 June – the tournament’s opening day – will be Chile’s Mauricio Isla (26) and Eugene Galekovic of Australia (33). Along the way, there will be festivities for the likes of Faryd Mondragon – the tournament’s oldest player will be 43 on 23 June – and Lionel Messi, who turns 27 the following day.
52 different countries’ leagues will be represented at Brazil 2014, with England accounting for more than any other.
43 is the age at which Faryd Mondragon will depart Brazil 2014, establishing the Colombia keeper as this edition’s oldest player by some distance. The second-oldest – Cafateros team-mate Mario Yepes – is four years younger at 39, with Greece’s Georgios Karagounis (37 years, four months), Noel Valladares of Honduras (37 years, two months) and Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon (36 years, five months) following behind.
29 is the average age that establishes Argentina’s as the oldest squad at Brazil 2014. Honduras, Iran, Portugal and Uruguay are La Albiceleste’s closest rivals in this particular chart, with all four averaging out at five months younger than the Argentinians.
20 previous World Cup winners will be hoping to win the Trophy for a second time in Brazil. Unsurprisingly, this list is dominated by 16 of Spain’s class of 2010, while Italy’s Andrea Barzagli, Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo will all be out to replicate their 2006 triumph.
18 years and one month old, Cameroon’s Fabrice Olinga is the youngest player at Brazil 2014 and, if selected, he will become the ninth-youngest in World Cup history.
14 World Cup goals establishes Miroslav Klose as the most prolific of all the players heading to Brazil. Indeed, the veteran Germany striker needs just one more to equal the tournament record set by Ronaldo in 2006. Klose can also become just the third player to score in four different editions, a feat previously managed only by compatriot Uwe Seeler and the great Pele.