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11 amazing World Cup stats that sound like bull**** but are actually true

The greatest show on Earth rolls into Russia this summer, but are you prepared for your pub chats yet?

We bet you thought you were armed and ready to hit the pubs ahead of the World Cup this summer.

Menial football chatter can be futile when all you really want to do is watch the game.


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But how about something to really impress your mates rather than just the same old tiresome debate about Jordan Henderson’s sideways passes.

These statistics might sound like utter horse**** but we promise they’re all actually, legitimately true.

1 1 in 1000 – of Icelandic males aged between 22 and 34 have made their World Cup squad

Iceland secured qualification to their first-ever World Cup on Monday

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If you’re happy you’re one of the 0.1% clap your hands

As of March this year the entire population of Iceland was around 340,000 – approximately half the size of Glasgow.

That means they have a pretty slim pool to work with when it comes to picking squads for international tournaments.

Still beat England though, didn’t they?

2 The youngest player at the World Cup wasn’t born when Mexico captain Rafael Marquez made his debut

Rafael Marquez spent seven season with Barcelona

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Proper golden oldie

Australia hotshot Daniel Arzani is the only player in Russia born in 1999.

Marquez, amazingly, is making his FIFTH tournament appearance for Mexico at the grand old age of 39 after making his debut way back in 1997.

The former Barcelona stalwart is set to become the oldest outfield player to ever feature at a World Cup.

3 17 of Morocco’s 23 World Cup players were born outside Morocco

Ziyech is Morocco’s best player

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Ziyech is Morocco’s best player

Undoubtedly a World Cup dark horse, a whole host of Morocco’s players were actually born all over Europe in places like the Netherlands and Spain.

Hakim Ziyech – their star midfielder – famously snubbed Holland after condescending remarks from Dutch great Marco van Basten.

4 Egypt’s goalkeeper was born in the same year as Ray Parlour

The same age as Tore Andre Flo

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The same age as Tore Andre Flo

Essam El-Hadary has seen some things during his career, but a World Cup has always eluded him.

That’s all changing this summer as finally, after 22 years of trying to keep balls out of the net for Egypt, he will make his tournament bow in Russia.

At 45 he will become the oldest World Cup player by quite some distance having been born in the same year as the likes of Ray Parlour and Jay-Jay Okocha.

5 The average age of Portugal’s best three centre-backs is 35

Ronaldo in an old man sandwich

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Ronaldo in an old man sandwich

Portugal might have a vibrant attacking line up filled to the brim with emerging talent.

But at the back they’re creaking, with their centre-back options bordering on geriatrics.

The Portuguese will likely line up with two from Pepe (35), Jose Fonte (34) and Bruno Alves (36) in a four-man defence.

6 The distance from the westernmost city to the easternmost city is longer than the distance from London to Moscow

Wouldn’t bother hitch-hiking

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Wouldn’t bother hitch-hiking

Russia is pretty big yeah? Biggest country on the planet actually.

But just to make the sheer vastness of it even bigger, one of the host cities Kaliningrad is a Russian exclave tucked away between Lithuania and Poland.

It is approximately 1892 miles from there to the most western city – Yekaterinburg – which is almost 100 miles further than the distance between London and Moscow.

7 Iran – yes Iran – hold the World Cup qualifying record for clean sheets

Shut out specialists

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Shut out specialists

Last August Iran and South Korea played out a pretty shoddy and drab 0-0 draw.

But that result was seminal for one reason – it was the Iranians’ 12th clean sheet in a row in World Cup qualifying.

That spell encompassed 1,108 minutes of football as they conceded just three goals in their 17 qualifying games.

8 No player other than Lionel Messi has scored in a competitive game for Argentina since November 2016

Carrying his country

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Carrying his country

There’s one-man teams… and then there’s Argentina.

The Argies just about squeezed into the finals thanks to Messi’s hat-trick in their final game against Ecuador after a ropy qualifying campaign.

But Messi’s influence extends way past that Ecuador win, with only the Barcelona maestro or own goals finding the net for Argentina.

Angel di Maria was the last other player in an Argentina shirt to score for them in a 3-0 win over Colombia on November 15 2016.

9 Cristiano Ronaldo has never scored more than one goal at a single World Cup

Will he taste more goals this time?

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Will he taste more goals this time?

This is his fourth tournament appearance and, so far, the biggest stage of all has been all too daunting for CR7.

He managed just one goal at 2006, 2010 and 2014 and cut a pretty frustrated figure with his team-mates throughout.

Would be so him to set the record straight in Russia though.

10 Saudi Arabia’s best player was training with Man United in March

An Old Trafford icon

AFP or licensors
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An Old Trafford icon

Saudi Arabia are the rank outsiders in Russia but have a handful of players who will be keen to put their faces in the shop window.

One of them is Mohammad al-Sahlawi, who has scored 26 goals in 33 appearances for his country.

The striker was actually training with the United squad for three weeks earlier this season, but many feel it was purely to strengthen commercial ties.

11 Xherdan Shaqiri is younger than Lucas Vazquez

Liverpool are ready to press ahead with their attempts to sign Xherdan Shaqiri after the World Cup finishes

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You’re telling me that this man…

Lucas Vazquez is reportedly a target for Manchester United

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Is younger than this man

You know Vazquez, the man dubbed as Real Madrid and Spain’s ‘next big thing’.

Well he’s 26 and actually two months older than seasoned veteran Shaqiri, who we must admit we thought was at least 34.


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