C Bravo (C)
Ivan Zamorano and Marcelo Salas were Chilean footballers who became household names through the 1990s and France ‘98 became the last one to feature La Roja. Under experienced Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa, the Chileans made up for poor performances in the 2002 and 2006 qualifiers and finished second this time around behind Brazil. The side possesses the youngest average age of all South American teams. Sanchez and Suazo make for a tremendous attacking line and the duo combined well with midfielders Fernandez and Vidal to send the side to South Africa. A second spot finish is certainly not out of reach for this prolific young side and Bielsa must surely be making plans to surprise heavyweights Spain.
Key players: Humberto Suazo, Matias Fernandez, Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal.
Coach: Marcelo Bielsa.
Record: P:25 W:7 D:6 L:12
A. Frei (C)
Switzerland will make their ninth WC appearance under the able guidance of German Ottmar Hitzfeld and will not be looking for just a consolation entry. After having made it to the round of 16 in 2006, Switzerland will vie for second spot in the group to make it to the further stages. A sole loss to minnows Luxembourg was the only disappointment during the qualifying round with wins even against Euro ‘04 winners Greece. Alexandre Frei will be leading the Schweizer Nati and will look to augment his reputation as a determined skipper, and with the likes of Blaise N'Kufo partering him up front in strike, a solid performance should be in order. They will deploy a 4-4-2 that encourages wingers, including Valon Behrami, to get forward. There are goals in this side - they bagged 18 in qualifying.
Key players: Alexandre Frei, Blaise N’Kufo, Phillippe Senderos
Coach: Ottmar Hitzfeld
Record: P:26 W:8 D:5 L:13
I Casillas (C)
La Furia Roja are the favourites to lift the World Cup, no surprises there. With a squad boasting considerable talent not just on-field but even on the benches, the Spanish will look to re-enact the Euro '08 campaign. Manager Vincente del Bosque has brought in manifold new faces and the Spanish will look to top the group with ease. They romped through the qualifiers registering ten wins in as many matches. An experienced back four with Puyol, Capdevilla and Pique will augment the strength possessed by the midfield in the forms of Xavi, Iniesta and Silva. Forwards Torres and Villa are lethal and should provide Spanish fans with much to smile about all the way to last four. Then again, one can never disregard the ability of the World Cup to throw its share of surprises.
Key players: Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Fernando Torres, Gerard Pique.
Coach: Vincente del Bosque.
Record: P: 49 W:22 D: 12 L:15.
A Guevara (C)
Los Catrachos will be making only their second appearance at the World Cup, the first having been in 1982. The tiny Central American nation made it through in part because of the United States drawing with Costa Rica in the final game of the group stages at the qualifiers. The Hexagonal round defeats of Mexico and Costa Rica were high points in the campaign and the side will believe in a determined fight in their group. Colombian Alvaro Rueda brought in a dimension of professionalism that was lacking and the side has no dearth of quality. Rueda tended to play 4-4-2 in qualifying with the veteran Carlos Pavón and Inter’s David Suazo, who spent last season on loan with Genoa, up front. Switched to 4-5-1 in the away games and usually included an extra defensive midfielder alongside Wilson Palacios and Hendry Thomas. Leon, Suazo and Pavon may allow Honduras to make their arrival on the World Stage once again.
Key players: David Suazo, Wilson Palacios, Carlos Pavon.
Coach: Alvaro Rueda.
Record: P:3 W:0 D:2 L:1