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AGEING WELL

How many 2006 World Cup players are likely to be playing at 2018 World Cup?

An ageless group of players who were at the 2006 World Cup in Germany are likely to be in Russia for the 2018 World Cup as well

The relentless beast that is the sands of time mean another World Cup in on our doorstep.

What can you expect? England drawing 0-0 with the supposed minnow of the group. Plenty of soul searching when we go out doggedly in the second round. Oh, and a fair few familiar faces.

The sands of time haven’t stopped some familiar faces from the 2006 World Cup reappearing in Russia, as long as they avoid injury or loss of form. So who are they?


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A young Lionel

AFP
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A young Lionel

Lionel Messi & Javier Mascherano (Argentina)

Messi came into the 2006 World Cup as an 18-year-old with seven caps while Javier Mascherano, playing for Corinthians at the time, wasn’t much more experienced on 15 caps.

Juan Roman Riqueleme inspired Argentina to a quarter-final exit at the hands of German, with Messi scoring one goal in the tournament.

Argentina’s Class of 2018 have the best player at the tournament but arguably the worst defence, so it should be interesting either way.

Every Argentina player is in Messi’s shadow

Getty - Contributor
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Every Argentina player is in Messi’s shadow

Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos & Cesc Fabregas (Spain)

Heading into the 2006 World Cup Fabregas, Iniesta and Ramos has 18 caps between them.

But in Russia they’ll have well in excess of 100 each, including plenty of tournament experience.

Fabregas actually faces a battle to get into Spain’s squad, such is the competition in midfield, while Pepe Reina might creep in, as he did in 2006.

A rare Iniesta header

AP:Associated Press
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A rare Iniesta header

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

We’re going to gloss over Ronaldo’s winking antics at the 2006 World Cup, as they are still too difficult to talk about.

He’ll be arriving in Russia as a completely different player to the tricky winger that was public enemy no.1 after 2006.

With a goal every 51 minutes during qualifying he’s also a much better one, despite a recent drop in form.

Cheer up Ronny

AP:Associated Press
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Cheer up Ronny

Rafael Marquez, Guillermo Ochoa & Andres Guardado (Mexico)

Yes, you read that right, Rafa Marquez’s international career is still chugging on.

In 2006 he had 65 cap, now he’s amassed 143.

Captain Guardado has grown from winger to tempo specialist with a lovely left foot, while Ochoa will be Mexico’s first-choice keeper in Russia.

No less passionate, even at the age of 38

AFP or licensors
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No less passionate, even at the age of 38

Luka Modric (Croatia)

Little Luka has continued to get better with age.

From a 20-year-old finding his way in the game with Dinamo Zagreb to the best central midfielder in the world.

Real Madrid’s magician will be central to a Croatian side that are always dark horses at tournaments but have yet to deliver.

There’s something on your face Luka

Reuters
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There’s something on your face Luka

Johan Djourou, Blerim Dzemail & Valon Behrami (Switzerland)

It might surprise Arsenal fans to find out that Djourou could still get into the Switzerland squad, as he did as a 19-year-old in 2006.

But there will be no place for Philippe Senderos, much to the disappointment of all the other 31 teams at the World Cup.

Sure you don’t fancy a recall, Switzerland?

Happy times for Johan

EPA
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Happy times for Johan

Tim Cahill & Mark Milligan (Australia)

What do the World Cups of 2006 and 2018 in common?

They’ll both feature Cahill beating up corner flags, as long as he scores in Russia.

Melbourne Victory utility man Milligan will also be present and looking to build on his 67 caps.

R.I.P that corner flag

Reuters
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R.I.P that corner flag

Lukasz Fabianski (Poland)

Flappianski in 2006. Flappianski in 2018?

Lukasz faces a fight to be number one in Russia, due to the presence of Wojciech Szczesny.

Neither will strike particular fear into opposition strikers.