Mexico’s Marquez in ‘great shape’ at fifth career World Cup - Tucson News Now

Mexico’s Marquez in ‘great shape’ at fifth career World Cup

MOSCOW (AP) -

Mexico defender Rafael Marquez is feeling “in great shape” after becoming only the third man in history to play at a fifth career World Cup.

The 39-year-old came on in the 74th minute of Mexico’s 1-0 win over Germany on Sunday, following in the footsteps of Germany’s Lotthar Matthaeus and fellow Mexican Antonio Carbajal.

“I feel in great shape for the rest of the tournament,” said Marquez, adding about Mexico’s victory that “back home no one thought that we could pull this off. We have a pessimist culture in Mexico, but we have a tough mentality.”

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio brought Marquez on to make Mexico’s defensive tactics more robust as Germany threw men forward in search of a goal to level the game. Playing as captain in a defensive midfield role, he made some tough tackles on German players as Mexico successfully defended its lead.

“I didn’t think about the fifth World Cup,” Marquez said. “The game was close and I just wanted to do my job. It was a moment with a lot of pressure.”

Marquez played his first World Cup in 2002 at the age of 23, and has played all four of Mexico’s games in every campaign, all of which ended in the round of 16. Mexico’s best-ever result was reaching the quarterfinals in 1970 and 1986.

Marquez played for Barcelona between 2003 and 2010 and plans to retire after the World Cup. He played his last two club seasons with Mexican team Atlas, where he started his professional career in 1996.

Off the field, he attracted controversy last year when the U.S. Treasury Department placed him under sanctions for his alleged role in money laundering for a Mexican drug trafficking organization. Marquez denied having any links to drug traffickers.

Gianluigi Buffon was in the Italy squad for five World Cups from 1998 through 2014, but didn’t play in his first tournament.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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