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Brazil to rotate players

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

AS we get close to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, we will for the next 31 days provide details of the teams that will be participating in the tournament.


Population: 11.14 million

National dish: Mussels and chips

National anthem: The Brabanconne

Best World Cup finish: Fourth place in 1986.

Premier League pedigree: Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele Nacer Chadli (Tottenham), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Marouane Fellaini (Man Utd), Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne (Chelsea), Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Vincent Kompany (Man City).

Magic Moment

Leo van der Elst tucking away the fifth and winning penalty to knock out Spain in the quarter-finals in Mexico '86.

Meet the coach: Marc Wilmots. Midfield driving force of his country's team in the 90s, the 44-year-old has been in charge since 2012 after three years as assistant. Has also been a politician spending two years in the country's Senate.

Meet the captain: Vincent Kompany. Manchester City's skipper has proved his credentials as a top defender and is the rock on which Belgium's defence is founded.

Star man: Marouane Fellaini. That haircut and his 6ft 4ins frame means you can't miss the Manchester United man in central midfield.

Watch out for: Romelu Lukaku: Barely got a game behind Christian Benteke in the qualifying games but if he goes on getting goals for Everton could win the contest to wear the No 9 shirt.

Vital statistic Despite having 10 different goalscorers during qualifying, no Belgian managed to score more than four goals (De Bruyne - 4).

Coral odds to win: 14/1

Draw danger rating: 4/5

Talking tactics: It's a 4-2-3-1, which means either Lukaku or Benteke gets to play - Wilmots thinks the two strikers are too similar to be in the same team. Eden Hazard gets a lot of the ball to run from the wings.

Most likely to: Shave Fellaini's hair off for some fun on a night out.


Population: 3.83 million

National dish: Cevapi - a grilled dish of minced meat

National anthem: Drzavna himna Bosne i Hercegovine

Best World Cup finish: Never previously qualified.

Premier League pedigree: Asmir Begovic (Stoke), Edin Dzeko (Man City)

Magic Moment

Topping their qualifying group on goal difference after a nervy 1-0 away win in Lithuania.

Meet the coach: Safet Susic. Once a creative midfielder who played more than 350 games for Paris St Germain, the 58-year-old had coached in France and Turkey before taking his current job in 2009.

Meet the captain: Emir Spahic. Experienced and craggy Bayer Leverkusen centre half, 33, has also played club football in Russia and Spain.

Star man: Edin Dzeko. He may struggle to get a game at The Etihad at times, but some 33 goals in 58 internationals make the 27-year-old an automatic pick for his country.

Vital statistic Only Netherlands striker Robin van Persie (11) scored more goals in the UEFA qualifiers than Edin Dzeko (10).

Coral odds to win: 150/1

Draw danger rating: 4/5

Watch out for: Miralem Pjanic: Attacking midfielder cost Roma £10million in 2011. Aged just 23, he's hugely gifted technically and can work on both wings as well as in central positions.

Talking tactics: Just the one holding midfield man allows two tall strikers with Vedad Ibiševi of Stuttgart alongside Dzeko and a fairly direct style.

Most likely to: All dye their hair blond to underline team spirit.


Population: 198.7million

National dish: Feijoada - a stew of beans with beef and pork

National anthem: Himno Nacional Brasileiro

Best World Cup finish: Winners 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002.

Premier League pedigree: David Luiz, Ramires, Oscar (Chelsea), Paulinho, Sandro (Tottenham), Lucas (Liverpool), Fernandinho (Man City).

Magic Moment

How long have you got? For those of us of a certain age it would still be Carlos Alberto arriving from nowhere to meet Pele's pass and smash the final goal of the 4-1 win over Italy in the 1970 final. YouTube it!

Meet the coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari: Brain behind the 2002 triumph was brought back two years ago with one brief - to win the trophy again on home soil. Vastly experienced and successful 65-year-old.

Meet the captain: Thiago Silva. Imposing centre back has won League titles with both Milan and Paris St Germain. Age 29, likely to win his 50th cap at the start of the tournament.

Star man: Dani Alves: Barcelona star sets the template for what an attacking full back should do. Powerful in the tackle, devastating when he gets forward. At 30 he has some 72 caps.

Watch out for: Neymar: Barcelona paid nearly £50million to sign the quicksilver striker who was still 19 when he was named South American Footballer of the Year. Not 22 until March, he's already got 46 caps and scored 27 goals.

Vital statistic Brazil have lost just two of their last 17 World Cup matches (W14 D1).

Coral odds to win: 10/3

Draw danger rating: 5/5

Talking tactics: Scolari took over a team playing 4-3-3 and has kept the same basic shape but brought in flexibility to rotate players.

Most likely to: Win.

To be continued tomorrow …

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