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World Cup teams

Source: Daily Mail
Monday, May 12, 2014

Get to know your Lionel Messis from your Islam Slimanis. Everything from red-hot favourite Brazil to what formation the Hondurans are likely to use ... here's your ultimate team-by-team guide to the 2014 Brazil World Cup in alphabetical order.

ALGERIA

Population: 37.9million

National dish: Couscous, usually with lamb

National anthem: Kassaman or Qassaman (means We Pledge)

Best World Cup finish: First round in 1982, 1986 and 2010.

Premier League pedigree: Adlene Guedioura (Crystal Palace)

Magic Moment

Beating reigning European Champions West Germany 2-1 on the first day of the 1982 Finals.

Meet the coach: Vahid Halilhodzic. Former Yugoslavia forward, 61, in charge of the Ivory Coast side that qualified for the 2010 World Cup but was sacked before the tournament.

Meet the captain: Madjid Bougherra. French-born centre back, 31, played in England for Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton then spent three years in Scotland with Rangers.

Star man: Islam Slimani. Tall, powerfully built 25-year-old striker who plays for Sporting Lisbon got five goals in qualifying.

Watch out for: Saphir Sliti Taider. Inter Milan spent £4.8m to buy him the midfielder, 21. Born in Castres, played for French international youth teams, but has an Algerian mother.

Vital statistic Algeria won six of their eight World Cup Qualification games; those two losses came against Mali and Burkina Faso.

Coral odds to win 300/1

Draw danger rating 2/5

Talking tactics: Halilhodzic builds his sides around a solid defence and organisation, then hopes his forwards will come up with something special to pinch a goal

Most likely to: Go through all three qualifying games as 0-0 draws.

ARGENTINA

Population: 41.9million

National dish: Asado - beef cooked on a barbecue

National anthem: Himno Nacional Argentina

Best World Cup finish: Winners 1978 and 1986

Magic Moment

Diego Maradona's virtual one-man winning show in Mexico was magnificent, but still doesn't top the free flowing football played on pitches ankle deep in ticker tape by the 1978 side in front of their own fans.

Premier League pedigree: Pablo Zabaleta, Sergio Aguero (Man City), Erik Lamela (Tottenham), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle).

Meet the coach: Alejandro Sabella. Bit of a Yorkshireman - he spent two seasons in his playing days as an attacking midfielder with Sheffield United and then moved to Leeds for a year. Spent years as coach to Daniel Passarella at different jobs, won the Argentina title in his own right with Estudiantes, and took the national job in 2011.

Meet the captain: Javier Mascherano. Former Liverpool and West Ham star often plays as a central defender for Barcelona, but is more often used in his old midfield position for his country. Tenacious tackler who gets the ball to let the others play.

Vital statistic No player assisted more goals in the CONMEBOL qualifiers than Lionel Messi or Angel Di Maria (5).

Coral odds to win 11/2

Draw danger rating: 5/5

Star man: Lionel Messi. What more to say about the brilliant Barcelona star, Ballon d'Or winner four seasons in a row, scorer of countless goals? Only that the one thing he still wants is a World Cup winners' medal.

Watch out for: Marcos Rojo. Tall, powerful left-sided central defender who plays for Sporting Lisbon and at 23 is starting to get more chances in Sabella's team selections.

Talking tactics: Strong defence, options in attack - but the side is built around getting the ball to Messi as often as possible and letting him do the damage.

Most likely to: Say: 'Oh, great goal Messi'.

AUSTRALIA

Population: 22.68 million

National dish: Anything - just throw it on the barbecue

National anthem: Advance Australia Fair

Best World Cup finish: Round of 16, 2006

Premier League pedigree: Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace)

Magic Moment

Tim Cahill's two goals against Japan got the campaign off to a rousing start in Germany.

Meet the coach: Angelos Postecoglou. Born in Greece, he was five when his family moved to Melbourne. Now 48, he is Australia's most successful domestic coach and replaced German Holger Osieck last month.

Meet the captain: Lucas Neill. Former Blackburn, West Ham and Everton defender is now 35 and playing in Japan as he aims for a World Cup swansong to his career

Star man: Tim Cahill. A sign that domestic players from Oz are not developing that at 33 the former Everton man remains the most likely to get a goal.

Vital statistic The Socceroos won just three of their eight fourth round matches; fewer than the other three CAF qualifiers for the 2014 WC finals - Japan (5), Iran (5), South Korea (4).

Coral odds to win: 250/1

Draw danger rating: 2/5

Watch out for: Mathew Leckie: Robust, busy striker who is 22 and has been making a name for himself in Germany with Frankfurt.

Talking tactics: Postecoglou is new in the job so his plans are unknown, but his club success has mostly been based on quick counter attacking and the use of wingers.

Most likely to: Hit the Copacabana beach and go surfing. Continued tomorrow.








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