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The Brazil 2014 World Cup is just about to start, and here we delve back into the not-too-distant past to remember how Rivaldo became FCB’s second world champion in 2002 and the debuts on international football’s greatest stage of Puyol, Xavi, Fàbregas, Mascherano, Iniesta and Messi.
-There 13 Barça players in this edition (Amor, Pizzi, Sergi, Abelardo, Luis Enrique, Celades, Nadal, Cocu, Reiziger, Zenden, Hesp, Rivaldo and Giovanni), representing three different countries: Spain, Holland and Brazil.
-Rivaldo was the most prominent among them, scoring three goals and reaching the final with Brazil. Giovanni was also in the squad, but played a more secondary role.
-Spain crashed out in the first round, while Holland marched into the semi-finals, eventually going out on penalties to Brazil. Rivaldo converted his kick in the shootout, but Cocu missed his for Holland.
-The Barça players went into the tournament after winning the league and cup double.
South Korea and Japan 2002
-There were just 7 Barça players at the first World to be played in Asia (Puyol, Xavi, Luis Enrique, Rivaldo, Cocu, Andersson and Christanval).
-Rivaldo followed in Romario’s footsteps in 1994 by becoming the second FCB player to lift the trophy. He was also the third top goalscorer in the competition with five goals, beaten only by former FCB man Ronaldo (8) and tied with Germany’s Miroslav Klose.
-This was the first World Cup for Puyol and Xavi and the last for Luis Enrique. The new FCB manager played at three World Cups in total, as did the recently retired Puyol, while Xavi is about to appear in his fourth finals in Brazil.
-Four members of the current FCB squad made their World Cup debuts in Germany: Fàbregas, Mascherano, Iniesta and Messi.
-There were ten Barça players in total (Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Van Bronckhorst, Van Bommel, Deco, Ronaldinho, Messi, Larsson and Márquez), playing for seven different countries (Spain, Holland, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden and Mexico), the most varied representation Barça has ever had in the competition.
-None of the sides with Barça players were eliminated in the group stages, and it was Deco’s Portugal that got the furthest, going all the way to the semi-finals. Sweden, Spain, Holland and Mexico all went out in the second round, while Brazil and Argentina were beaten in the quarter finals.
-Against Serbia & Montenegro, an 18 year old Messi scored what is still his only goal in the World Cup Finals. His was the last of a spectacular 6-0 win.
-The Barça players went into the Germany 2006 World Cup after winning the league for the second year in a row and the club’s second Champions League title.
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