The FIFA World Cupâ„˘ is the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world and is contested by the senior men's national teams from the 208 Member Associations of FIFA. The competition has been played every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War. It fulfils FIFAâ€™s objectives to touch the world, develop the game, and build a better future through a variety of ways.
Uruguay Costa Rica England Italy
Germany Portugal Ghana USA
Spain Netherlands Chile Australia
Switzerland Ecuador France Honduras
Belgium Algeria Russia Korea Republic
Columbia Greece Côte d’Ivoire Japan
Argentina Bosnia-Herzegovina Iran Nigeria
THE BRAZIL NATIONAL TEAM Head Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari History So demanding are the Brazilian faithful, even a Seleção squad that finishes runners-up at a FIFA World Cup finals cannot be sure what kind of reception they will get on their return home. The only nation to have taken part in every edition of the elite competition, Brazil have lifted the coveted Trophy on a record five occasions (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002), finished in second place twice (1950 and 1998) and taken the last spot on the podium at another two editions (1938 and 1978).
The Current Crop Given they are set to host the next FIFA World Cup, Brazil have been spared the rigours of South American Zone qualifying. With that in mind, and fully aware of the enormous burden of expectation sure to surround A Verde e Amarelo in 2014, the national set-up have put in place an intense preparatory process featuring friendly clashes against fellow mem-
bers of the global elite. This approach has been underlined by meetings with opponents of the calibre of Argentina, France, USA and the Netherlands since South Africa 2010. However, in their first major test on the road to 2014, the Brazil crashed out of the 2011 Copa America at the quarter-final stage, eliminated by Paraguay.
Key Players Striker Neymar is already being hailed as a man capable of playing a key role for the five-time world champions come Brazil 2014. Currently among the supporting cast in attack is the youngster’s former Santos team-mate Robinho, while Barcelona’s Dani Alves is a lung-bursting presence on the flank. Between the sticks, veteran goalkeeper Julio Cesar exudes confidence and security to the rest of the backline.
THE SPAIN NATIONAL TEAM Head Coach: Vicente del Bosque How They Qualiﬁed Spain will head to Brazil as defending champions. Remaining loyal to the style and players that have allowed them to dominate the global and European scenes over the last five years, La Roja won the only qualification pool (aside from the South American group) to contain two world champions. In what was the smallest section in Europe with only five teams, the Spanish led the way from France thanks to a record of six wins and two draws, conceded to the French and Finland. In topping the group they let in a mere three goals, fewer than any other side in the European preliminaries. At the other end of the pitch, however, Spain enjoyed one of their less prolific campaigns, scoring only 14 times.
The Current Crop Prior to lifting the coveted Trophy in South Africa, so frequent were their exits at the last eight of the finals that Spain were said to be
suffering from a ‘quarter-final jinx’. Brazil 2014 will be La Selección’s tenth consecutive world finals appearance, and 14th in all, with their best performance before last year’s success coming at Brazil 1950. Having topped their first-round section, Spain went straight into the decisive four-team final group stage – where they finished fourth behind Uruguay, Brazil and Sweden.
Key Players Though there is no doubt that Spain’s embarrassment of midfield riches, featuring the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso, has been integral to their major trophy triumphs, La Selección are strong across the board. The men in red have a phalanx of very reliable keepers to call on, headed by Iker Casillas, while Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique have consolidated their positions as the leaders of a defence in which left-back Jordi Alba has gone from strength to strength. Ramos and