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World Cup: Experienced stars could shine brightly in Qatar

With the start of the World Cup just two weeks away, players around the globe are nervously waiting for their nation's squads to be confirmed.

As always, experience will be crucial at the tournament and modern-day greats Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are hoping to shine at what is likely to be their final World Cup. 

The Portugal and Argentina superstars are not the only veterans still playing key roles for their countries and we have picked out some of the other experienced campaigners set to line up in Qatar.

WhatWorld Cup
WhereQatar
When20th November - 18th December 2022
How to watchAll matches will be shown live on either the BBC or ITV
OddsBrazil 4/1, Argentina 11/2, France 6/1, England 8/1, Spain 17/2

Magnificent Modric still Croatia's midfield maestro 

Playmaker Luka Modric led Croatia to the final of the 2018 World Cup, winning the Golden Ball awarded to the tournament's best player and going on to claim the coveted Ballon d'Or at the end of the year. Four years on, at the age of 37, Modric is still operating at the highest level. 

He starred in Real Madrid's Champions League and Primera Liga triumphs last season and is looking forward to another crack at the World Cup, where he is 66/1 to retain the Golden Ball.  

The midfielder made his World Cup debut at the 2006 tournament and it is a mark of his longevity that he holds the record for being both Croatia's youngest and oldest goalscorer at a European Championship finals. 

In June this year Modric scored a Nations League winner against France, who beat Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 World Cup final, and his side are 50/1 to go one better than they did in Russia four years ago.

Brazil's Silva hoping to strike gold at last 

Thiago Silva has had a glittering club career in Europe with AC Milan, Paris St-Germain and, since August 2020, Chelsea but World Cup glory has eluded the Brazil captain. Silva made his Brazil debut just before the 2008 Olympic Games and has gone on to win more than 100 caps for the Selecao, who are 4/1 to win the World Cup in Qatar.  

The centre-back had an excellent campaign on home soil at the 2014 World Cup, opening the scoring in the quarter-final win over Colombia. However, a yellow card later in the game meant he was suspended for the semi-final against Germany in which Brazil suffered a shocking 7-1 defeat. Silva, 38, has proved an inspired signing for Chelsea, lifting the Champions League in his first season at the club in 2020/21. 

He is expected to be a vital part of Brazil's defence in front of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, who is 9/2 to win the Golden Glove award for the tournament's best keeper. 

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Uruguay strikers fired up for fourth World Cup 

Portugal's Ronaldo is not the only prolific veteran in Group H as section rivals Uruguay could have Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, both 35, in their squad. La Celeste are 2/1 to finish top of the group ahead of 8/13 favourites Portugal and Suarez and Cavani will be hoping to make a big impact at their fourth World Cup finals.  

Perhaps Suarez's most iconic World Cup moment was his goal-line handball to deny Ghana a late winner in their 2010 quarter-final clash. However, he can still deliver the goods at the other end of the pitch, as he showed when scoring twice as boyhood club Nacional sealed the Uruguayan championship in October. 

Suarez faces an awkward reunion with Ghana in the final group game on 2nd December and he is 2/1 to be Uruguay's top tournament goalscorer with Liverpool's Darwin Nunez 5/2 and Cavani, now playing his club football for Valencia, 6/1.  

Giroud hunting down Henry's record tally 

Olivier Giroud failed to muster a shot on target at the 2018 World Cup despite playing as the main striker for a free-scoring France side who won the tournament. However, Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps remains a great admirer of Giroud, whose international goalscoring record is far more impressive than that 2018 stat would suggest. 

The former Arsenal and Chelsea striker, 36, is closing in on Thierry Henry's record tally of 51 goals for France and Giroud's Nations League strike against Austria in September made him the oldest scorer in Les Bleus' history. 

He has been in sparkling form for AC Milan over the past two seasons, helping them win the Serie A title in 2021/22, although he is 14/1 to be France's top World Cup goalscorer in a market dominated by 5/4 Kylian Mbappe and 7/4 Karim Benzema. 

Los Ticos inspired by memories of 2014 Costa Rica do not have the deepest talent pool of the 32 World Cup contenders so it is no surprise that their squad features several survivors from 2014's surprise run to the quarter-finals. 

Eight years ago, Los Ticos topped a group containing England, Italy and Uruguay and they are 50/1 to repeat the feat against Group E rivals Spain, Germany and Japan. 

Ace PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas, 35, is still the first line of defence for Costa Rica and former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell, 30, has already racked up a century of caps. In midfield Alajuelense teammates Celso Borges, 34, and Bryan Ruiz, 37, have made almost 300 international appearances between them and ex-Fulham man Ruiz, who captains the side, is 8/1 to lead Los Ticos to the knockout stages again.

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