2014 vs 2018: How the Caltex Socceroos squads compare

How quickly football can change in four years.

Caltex Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk on Tuesday confirmed his 26-man squad to take to a pre-FIFA World Cup training camp in Turkey.

It's become a familiar conversation every four year cycle as the merits of each and every player come under close scrutiny.

With six members of the initial 32-man list already jettisoned, Van Marwijk must now make the hard call on which trio to trim from his final 23.

READ: Van Marwijk's six outs in Caltex Socceroos 26-man squad

Back in 2014, then boss Ange Postecoglou had to make four cuts when he took a group of 27 to Brazil, although he did opt to take a fourth goalkeeper into camp.

Postecoglou made no secret of using the tournament as something of a building block for the ultimately successful 2015 AFC Asian Cup campaign the following year, describing his selection as an attempt to regenerate an ageing outfit.

Mat Ryan
Mat Ryan was just 22 at his first FIFA World Cup.

This time around, van Marwijk has settled on a "strong and ambitious squad" that first and foremost has its sights set on the knockout stages.

Eight players have held their spot between the provisional rosters: Mat Ryan, Mile Jedinak, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Tom Rogic, James Troisi, Tim Cahill and Mathew Leckie.

OPINION: 15 'probables' for Russia leaves 11 fighting for spots

The largest turnover is in defence, where all seven of the players Postecoglou picked in 2014 have since made way.

In their places come another seven that could be classed as eight depending on Josh Brillante's positioning, the midfielder potentially featuring as a right-back option, similar to the auxiliary role previously performed by the left-sided Matt McKay.

Josh Brillante
Josh Brillante has come into contention as a handy utility option.

Postecoglou was prepared to take greater risks with his wide defenders, gambling on Jason Davidson and Ivan Franjic as the only natural options on either side of his back four.

There are, of course, constants. Mile Jedinak, Mark Milligan and Tim Cahill transcend generations and make up the knowledgeable core. Equally, the likes of Mat Ryan, James Troisi and Mat Leckie will hope to deliver the "invaluable" experience Postecoglou sought to provide.

And there are bolters in both, too: Daniel Arzani follows in the footsteps of Ben Halloran, while Fran Karacic is uncapped just as Bailey Wright was in 2014.

Ben Halloran
Ben Halloran timed his run well in 2014.

The comparative sense of continuity in midfield comes as little surprise given it's become the hardest part of the pitch for prospective Caltex Socceroos to breach.

With both managers finding it impossible to resist a plethora of engine room options, we could well see the midfielders dominate again when the time comes to select the 23 who will represent us in Russia.


Goalkeepers: Mark Birighitti, Eugene Galekovic, Mitch Langerak, Mat Ryan

Defenders: Jason Davidson, Ivan Franjic, Ryan McGowan, Matthew Spiranovic, Alex Wilkinson, Luke Wilkshire, Bailey Wright

Midfielders: Oliver Bozanic, Mark Bresciano, James Holland, Mile Jedinak, Massimo Luongo, Matt McKay, Mark Milligan, Tom Rogic, James Troisi, Dario Vidosic

Forwards: Tim Cahill, Ben Halloran, Mathew Leckie, Josh Kennedy, Tommy Oar, Adam Taggart


Goalkeepers: Brad Jones, Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic

Defenders: Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Matt Jurman, Fran Karacic, James Meredith, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury

Midfielders: Josh Brillante, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Dimitri Petratos, Tom Rogic, James Troisi

Forwards: Daniel Arzani, Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie, Andrew Nabbout, Nikita Rukavytsya