Lionel Messi's Argentina have the oldest squad at the World Cup this summer, suggesting it really is now or never for the Barcelona superstar and the rest of a talented Albiceleste generation to finally win international silverware before it is too late.
The average age of the 23-man Argentina squad named by coach Jorge Sampaoli was exactly 29 years when announced. Although always among the oldest at the tournament when selections were made, it hadn't initially been so high, with the average inflated when 25-year-old Manuel Lanzini dropped out through injury and was replaced by 32-year-old Enzo Perez.
The second oldest squad at the tournament belongs to Mexico, whose average age is 28.9, although 39-year-old Rafael Marquez, who has now played at his fifth World Cup, is responsible for bringing it up. Only four others in the Mexico squad are actually older than 31, but just three are under 24.
Egypt's average age of 28.4 was considerably affected by the presence of 45-year-old goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who made his international debut in 1996 before the youngest member of the Egyptian squad, Ramadan Sobhi, was even born.
World Cup newcomers Panama are also among the oldest at an average age of 28.4. Their squad was a real mix of old and young, with Jaime Penedo, Felipe Baloy, Blas Perez and Luis Tejada all 36 or older. Yet 19-year-old Gent midfielder Jose Luis Rodriguez is one of only seven teenagers at the whole tournament.
Costa Rica (28.5), Russia (28.3), Japan (28.3), Iceland (28.1), Brazil (28.1) and Spain (28.0) are the other nations whose average squad age comes in at 28 or higher.
England, whose oldest player is Ashley Young at just 32 years of age, have one of the youngest squads in Russia, with an average age of 26.0. That is the same as now former Group G rivals Tunisia, but there are still two younger squads whose average age is even lower.
France, a team many people believe could win the trophy for only the second time in their history, have an average age of 25.6. As many as 15 of their 23 players are aged 25 or younger, with 19-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappe the youngest of the squad.
Nigeria, another very popular team with supporters, are the youngest at the World Cup. The average age of their squad is only 25.5, three-and-a-half years younger than Argentina, who the Super Eagles will actually face in their third group game towards the end of June.
Will it be youthful exuberance or experience that counts most in Russia? Only time will tell.
Average Age of All 32 Squads at the 2018 World Cup (*Calculated using the age of every player on 14th June 2018 when the World Cup begins)
|Country||Avg. Age||Oldest Player||Youngest Player|
|Argentina||29.0||Willy Caballero (36)||Paulo Dybala (22)|
||28.9||Rafael Marquez (39)||Edison Alvarez (20)|
|Costa Rica||28.5||Johnny Acosta (34)||Ian Smith (20)|
||Essam El-Hadary (45)||Ramadan Sobhi (21)|
|Panama||28.4||Felipe Baloy (37)||Jose Luis Rodriguez (19)|
|Russia||28.3||Sergei Ignashevich (38)||Aleksandr Golovin (22)|
|Japan||28.3||Eiji Kawashima (35)||Kosuke Nakamura (23)|
|Iceland||28.1||Kari Arnason (35)||Albert Gudmundsson (20)|
|Saudi Arabia||28.1||Yasser Al-Mosailem (34)||Abdullah Al-Khaibari (21)|
|Brazil||28.1||Miranda (33)||Gabriel Jesus (21)|
|Spain||28.0||Pepe Reina (35)||Marco Asensio (22)|
|Portugal||27.9||Bruno Alves (36)||Ruben Dias (21)|
|Colombia||27.9||Farid Diaz (34)||Davinson Sanchez (22)|
|Poland||27.9||Slawomir Peszko (33)||Dawid Kownacki (21)|
||Martin Silva (35)||Rodrigo Bentancur (20)|
|Sweden||27.7||Andreas Granqvist (33)||Emil Krafth (23)|
|Australia||27.6||Tim Cahill (38)||Daniel Arzani (19)|
|Croatia||27.4||Danijel Subasic (33)||Duje Caleta-Car (21)|
||Lee Yong (31)||Lee Seung-woo (20)|
|Belgium||27.1||Thomas Vermaelen (32)||Youri Tielemans (21)|
|Peru||27.0||Paolo Guerrero (34)||Renato Tapia (22)|
|Morocco||26.8||Mbark Boussoufa (33)||Achraf Hakimi (19)|
|Denmark||26.7||Michael Krohn-Dehli (35)||Kasper Dolberg (20)|
|Switzerland||26.7||Stephan Lichtsteiner (34)||Breel Embolo (21)|
|Iran||26.7||Pejman Montazeri (34)||Saeid Ezatolahi (21)|
|Senegal||26.7||Khadim N'Diaye (33)||Moussa Wague (19)|
|Germany||26.7||Mario Gomez (32)||Julian Brandt (22)|
|Serbia||26.3||Vladimir Stojokvic (34)||Luka Jovic (20)|
|Tunisia||26.0||Aymen Mathlouthi (33)||Bassem Srarfi (20)|
|England||26.0||Ashley Young (32)||Trent Alexander-Arnold (19)|
|France||25.6||Steve Mandanda (33)||Kylian Mbappe (19)|
|Nigeria||25.5||Daniel Akpeyi (32)||Francis Uzoho (19)|