World Cup 2018: Latin American Stat Pack

With 5 CONMEBOL representatives and 3 CONCACAF qualified states, sides hailing from Latin America make up a healthy portion of the forthcoming World Cup and will provide some of the tournament’s real excitement. In order to get a better idea of what to expect from those travelling to Russia, we have collated some interesting facts and points of note belonging to each team.

All of the below nations have representatives in our Latin American Combined Team piece.

Argentina:

Lionel Messi Argentina

Number of World Cup Appearances: 16
Best ever finish: Winners (1978, 1986)
Last finish: (Runners-up, 2014)
Most capped in squad: Javier Mascherano (143 caps)
Highest goalscorer in squad: Lionel Messi (64 goals)
Record in qualifying: W 7, D 7, L 4
Average goals per game scored in qualifying: 1.05
Average goals per game conceded in qualifying: 0.88

Argentina arrive looking to pick up their third world crown, having missed out narrowly four year ago, their first World Cup final appearance since 1990. Javier Mascherano is the most capped man in the squad and is also the joint record holder on Argentina’s most ever appearances list, whilst Lionel Messi is the undisputed, all time top goalscorer, with his 64 goals outdoing second placed Gabriel Batistuta by 10.

Interestingly, Argentina have drawn group opponents Nigeria at the same stage in 3 of the last 4 World Cups, as well as in 4 of the last 6, winning all four of said outings, although they lost 4-2 to the Africans in a November friendly. La Albiceleste have never played Iceland meanwhile, but have met fellow opponents Croatia on 4 occasions, winning twice, drawing once and losing once, with the latter meeting coming in a November 2014 2-1 friendly win.

Check out our Potential Argentina Starting XI feature.

Brazil:

Brazil predictions, betting tips and match preview

Number of World Cup Appearances: 21
Best ever finish: Winners (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2014)
Last finish: Fourth Place (2014)
Most capped in squad: Neymar (84 caps)
Highest goalscorer in squad: Neymar (54 goals)
Record in qualifying: W 12, D 5, L 1
Average goals per game scored in qualifying: 2.27
Average goals per game conceded in qualifying: 0.61

With burying the ghosts of that famous 7-1 defeat to Germany in 2014 the target, Brazil arrive with plenty of momentum behind them after qualifying in simply dominant fashion. It’s quite surprising to see Neymar as the most capped player in Brazilian squad, given he’s only 26, but it’s far less of a shock to see him standing as the highest scoring man of the 23, with his 54 goals putting him 4th on Brazil’s all time goal scoring list.

Brazil have plenty of experience against their group stage opponents, something that could prove advantageous given they’ve also clashed at least once in recent years.The Seleção have met Costa Rica on 10 occasions and have won the last 8 meetings between the two, including 1-0 friendly wins in both 2011 and 2015, as well as in the 1990 and 2002 World Cups. Against Switzerland, the Brazilians have less happier memories, losing 1-0 in an August 2013 friendly, but historically they’ve fared fairly well against the Swiss, winning 3 times, drawing 3 times and losing twice. Finally, Serbia are the more unknown quantity for those in yellow and green, with a 1-0 June 2014 friendly win against said nation the only ever meetings between the two.

Take a look at Brazil’s potential starting line-up in Russia.

Colombia:

Colombia World Cup

Number of World Cup Appearances: 5
Best ever finish: Quarter-finalist (2014)
Last finish: Quarter-finalist (2014)
Most capped in squad: David Ospina (86 caps)
Highest goalscorer in squad: Radamel Falcao (29 goals)
Record in qualifying: W 7, D 6, L 5
Average goals per game scored in qualifying: 1.16
Average goals per game conceded in qualifying: 1.05

After recording their best ever finish 4 years ago, Colombia jet off to Russia looking to make more waves. First choice goalkeeper David Ospina is the highest caped man in the squad and has made the fourth highest amount of appearances in Colombian history, though he’s run close by midfielder Carlos Sanchez who has just one less cap. In the goal scoring department, there’s no surprise to find all time record-goalscorer Radamel Falcao top of the pile with 29 goals, though James Rodriguez isn’t too far behind with 21.

Los Cafeteros will certainly be pleased to have drawn Japan in their group, having hammered them 4-1 at the same stage in Brazil, and the Colombians have also met Senegal in recent years, drawing 2-2 in a May 2014 friendly. Though they’ve also faced Poland on 7 occasions, winning 4 times, they last of those fixtures came in a 2006 2-1 friendly triumph, so there’s not much recent history to go on.

Take a look at our breakdown of Colombia’s squad.

Costa Rica:

Number of World Cup Appearances: 5
Best ever finish: Quarter-finalist (2014)
Last finish: Quarter-finalist (2014)
Most capped in squad: Celso Borges & Bryan Ruiz (109 caps)
Highest goalscorer in squad: Bryan Ruiz (23 goals)
Record in qualifying: W 9, D 5, L 2
Average goals per game scored in qualifying: 1.56
Average goals per game conceded in qualifying: 0.68

In a squad of familiar faces, international centurions Celso Borges and Bryan Ruiz bring the most caps to the table, with their 109 appearances. That duo are also the highest goalscorers of the 23, with Ruiz having plunged hpme 23 international goals to Borges’ 21.

As touched upon above Los Ticos have a terrible record against Group B’s big hitters Brazil, having lost 8 times in a row to the Brazilians since a 3-0 Panamerican Championship win over the South Americans in 1960. That means Costa Rica will really be targeting points in their clashes with Serbia and Switzerland and whilst they’ve never met the former, they have met the latter on two occasions, beaten them 1-0 in a June 2010 friendly but losing 2-0 to them in 2006.

See our analysis of Costa Rica’s squad here.

Mexico:

Lozano Mexico

Number of World Cup Appearances: 15
Best ever finish: Quarter-finalist (1970, 1986)
Last finish: Eliminated in Round of 16 (2014)
Most capped in squad: Rafael Marquez & Andres Guardado (144 caps)
Highest goalscorer in squad: Javier Hernandez (49 goals)
Record in qualifying: W 11, D 4, L 1
Average goals per game scored in qualifying: 1.81
Average goals per game conceded in qualifying: 0.50

There’s plenty of familiar faces in the Mexican squad and 39 year old Rafael Marquez is certainly one of them having racked up a staggering 144 caps, making him the most experienced man in the squad alongside Andres Guardado who has the same amount of international appearances. Meanwhile, forward Javier Hernandez has one of the most impressive international records of all the strikers heading to Russia, having rattled home 49 goals in 101 caps.

El Tri look to have their work cut out against world champions Germany once the action begins, having lost 4-1 to them in last year’s Confederations Cup and not won against them since 1985. Up against South Korea, the Mexicans will be far more confident having hammered the Asians 3-0 twice in 2014 friendlies, whilst their game against Sweden will be the first meetings between the teams since a 1-0 Sweden friendly win in 2009.

See our take on the men looking to lead Mexico to glory in Russia.

Panama:

Panama team photo

Number of World Cup Appearances: 0
Best ever finish: N/A.
Last finish: N/A.
Most capped in squad: Gabriel Gomez (144 caps)
Highest goalscorer in squad: Bias Perez & Luis Tejeda (43 goals)
Record in qualifying: W 6, D 1, L 2
Average goals per game scored in qualifying: 1.00
Average goals per game conceded in qualifying: 0.93

In one of the oldest squads heading to Russia, midfielder Gabriel Gomez tops the appearance list with 144 caps, making him one of 6 players in the squad to breach the 100 cap mark. Two of the players in the group also rank as the highest scorers of those travelling, with veteran forwards Bias Perez and Luis Tejeda having scored 43 times each.

Heading into Russia, Panama hold no experience whatsoever to call upon as regards their opponents, having never met Belgium, England or Tunisia.

Learn more about the Panama squad by clicking here.

Peru:

Peru World Cup 2018

Number of World Cup Appearances: 5
Best ever finish: Quarter-finalist (1970)
Last finish: Round 1 (1982)
Most capped in squad: Paolo Guerrero (87 caps)
Highest goalscorer in squad: Paolo Guerrero (34 goals)
Record in qualifying: W 8, D 6, L 6
Average goals per game scored in qualifying: 1.45
Average goals per game conceded in qualifying: 1.30

It’s no surprise Paolo Guerrero’s drug ban being lifted brought so much joy to Peru, with their captain both the highest capped and highest scoring man in travelling ranks, having scored 34 goals in 87 appearances. Right winger Jefferson Farfan is the closest to Guerrero on both fronts, having notched 25 times in 83 appearances.

In terms of their group opponents, Peru have very little history to go on, having never met Denmark and Australia and having only ever faced France once, in a 1982 friendly match win.

Analysis on Peru’s squad can be found here.

Uruguay:

Uruguay predictions, betting tips and match preview

Number of World Cup Appearances: 12
Best ever finish: Winners (1930, 1950)
Last finish: Round of 16 (2014)
Most capped in squad: Maxi Pereira (124 caps)
Highest goalscorer in squad: Luis Suarez (50 goals)
Record in qualifying: W 9, D 4, L 5
Average goals per game scored in qualifying: 2.55
Average goals per game conceded in qualifying: 1.11

After impressively qualifying in second place from South American qualifying, Uruguay arrive with plenty of momentum behind them. There’s a nice blend of youth and and experience in their squad, and 33 year old Maxi Pereira certainly falls into the latter category, possessing a squad high 124 caps, also making him Uruguay’s all-time top scorer. Meanwhile, La Celsete’s all time top two goal scorers are also heading to Russia. With Luis Suarez’s 50 goal tally slightly outdoing partner Edinson Cavani’s 42 goal total.

Uruguay have met hosts Russia, who are in their group, on one occasion in a 1-1 2012 friendly draw, whilst they’ve also face Egypt just once in the past, via a 2-0 August friendly win. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia are a team the Uruguayans have met twice, losing 3-2 to them in 2002 and drawing 1-1 back in 2014, both in friendlies.

Our Uruguayan squad feature is available here.

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