World Cup Teams

Following is a brief summary of each of the teams who will be involved in the finals of the World Cup in Germany. Following the country's name is the official FIFA ranking in brackets.

Croatia (20)

Coach: Zlatko Kranjcar.

Key players: Dado Prso, Niko Kovac, Josip Simunic.

World Cup record and best finish: Third appearance; third place (1998).

Last appearance: Third round 2002.

World Cup odds: 50-1.

How qualified: Won European Group 8.

Fast Facts: Croatia's unbeaten record in qualifying should mean it will improve on its first-round elimination from 2002.

Czech Republic (2)

Coach: Karel Bruckner.

Key players: Pavel Nedved, Tomas Rosicky, Milan Baros.

World Cup record and best finish: First appearance (as Czechoslovakia: eight appearances, runner-up 1938, 1962).

Last appearance: Quarterfinals 1990.

World Cup odds: 20-1.

How qualified: Beat Norway in European playoffs.

Fast Facts: No team scored more goals in European qualifying than the European Championship semi finalists. Jan Koller, Rosicky and Baros are sure to trouble defenses.

England (9)

Coach: Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Key players: David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen.

World Cup record and best finish: 12th appearance; champion (1966).

Last appearance: Quarterfinals 2002.

World Cup odds: 7-1.

How qualified: Won European Group 6.

Fast Facts: An underachiever since winning its only title, England has the flair and spirit to trouble opponents, but a habit of faltering in the knockout stages.

France (5)

Coach: Raymond Domenech.

Key players: Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet.

World Cup record and best finish: 11th appearance; champion (1998).

Last appearance: First round 2002.

World Cup odds: 12-1.

How qualified: Won European Group 4.

Fast Facts: France struggled to qualify until veterans Zidane, Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele returned to the team and is unlikely to be the force it once was.

Germany (16)

Coach: Juergen Klinsmann.

Key players: Michael Ballack, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Oliver Kahn.

World Cup record and best finish: 15th appearance; champion (1954, 1974, 1990).

Last appearance: Runner-up 2002.

World Cup odds: 8-1.

How qualified: Host.

Fast Facts: Germany should be boosted the way hosts usually are, but this team seems to lack the quality needed to emulate its runner-up spot from 2002.

Italy (12)

Coach: Marcello Lippi.

Key players: Francesco Totti, Alessandro Nesta, Christian Vieri.

World Cup record and best finish: 16th appearance; champion (1934, 1938, 1982).

Last appearance: Second round 2002.

World Cup odds: 8-1.

How qualified: Won European Group 5.

Fast Facts: Having disappointed at recent tournaments, the attacking power of Totti, Antonio Cassano and Luca Toni may spur Italy to rival its past deeds.

Netherlands (3)

Coach: Marco van Basten.

Key players: Ruud van Nistelrooy, Edwin van der Sar, Phillip Cocu.

World Cup record and best finish: Eighth appearance; runner-up (1974, 1978).

Last appearance: Semifinals 1998.

World Cup odds: 11-1.

How qualified: Won European Group 1.

Fast Facts: One of the few European nations to be a genuine contender, the Netherlands' young team may lack the experience needed to win the country's first title.

Poland (23)

Coach: Pawel Janas.

Key players: Maciej Zurawski, Kamil Kosowski, Jerzy Dudek.

World Cup record and best finish: Sixth appearance; third place (1974, 1982).

Last appearance: First round 2002.

World Cup odds: 80-1.

How qualified: One of two best European group runners-up.

Fast Facts: Poland qualified strongly from a weak group and, with a team of few stars, is unlikely to get past the first round.

Portugal (10)

Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Key players: Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco.

World Cup record and best finish: Fourth appearance; third place (1966).

Last appearance: First round 2002.

World Cup odds: 20-1.

How qualified: Won European Group 3.

Fast Facts: Portugal is going strong after reaching the 2004 European Championship final. It may lack the discipline to win, but with Figo and its own Ronaldo, it has the talent.

Serbia-Montenegro (47)

Coach: Ilija Petkovic.

Key players: Mateja Kezman, Dejan Stankovic.

World Cup record and best finish: First appearance (as Yugoslavia: nine appearances, semifinals 1930, 1962).

Last appearance: Second round 1998.

World Cup odds: 66-1.

How qualified: Won European Group 7.

Fast Facts: Although it won its qualifying group ahead of Spain, the team's failure to beat the more favored Spaniards suggests it might struggle against the big-name teams.

Spain (6)

Coach: Luis Aragones.

Key players: Raul Gonzalez, Xavi Hernandes, Carles Puyol.

World Cup record and best finish: 12th appearance; fourth place (1950).

Last appearance: Quarterfinals 2002.

World Cup odds: 14-1.

How qualified: Beat Slovakia in European playoffs.

Fast Facts: The most famous underachiever of all World Cup regulars, Spain looks to have the same mercurial talent and fragile mentality that frustrates fans every four years.

Sweden (14)

Coach: Lars Lagerback.

Key players: Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Fredrik Ljungberg, Henrik Larsson.

World Cup record and best finish: 11th appearance; runner-up (1958).

Last appearance: Second round 2002.

World Cup odds: 33-1.

How qualified: One of two best European group runners-up.

Fast Facts: Sweden often outperforms higher-ranked and favored nations at the World Cup and, with the likes of Ibrahimovich and Ljungberg, could do so again.

Switzerland (36)

Coach: Koebi Kuhn.

Key players: Alexander Frei, Philippe Senderos.

World Cup record and best finish: Eighth appearance; quarterfinals (1934, 1938, 1954).

Last appearance: Second round 1994.

World Cup odds: 80-1.

How qualified: Beat Turkey in European playoff.

Fast Facts: Having missed the past two tournaments and with no major stars, Switzerland will rely on the spirit it showed to beat Turkey in the playoffs to get it past the first round.

Ukraine (40)

Coach: Oleh Blokhin.

Key players: Andriy Shevchenko, Andrii Voronin.

World Cup record and best finish: First appearance.

Last appearance: First appearance.

World Cup odds: 50-1.

How qualified: Won European Group 2.

Fast Facts: Ukraine is not considered a serious contender for the title, but powered by Shevchenko's goals, it could upset a team or two at its first World Cup.

Argentina (4)

Coach: Jose Pekerman.

Key players: Hernan Crespo, Juan Roman Riquelme, Carlos Tevez.

World Cup record and best finish: 14th appearance; champion (1978, 1986).

Last appearance: First round 2002.

World Cup odds: 13-2.

How qualified: Second in South American qualifying.

Fast Facts: Argentina has skill at all positions, and is believed to be one of the few teams that can beat Brazil.

Brazil (1)

Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira.

Key players: Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Kaka.

World Cup record and best finish: 18th appearance; champion (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002).

Last appearance: Champion 2002.

World Cup odds: 11-4.

How qualified: Won in South American qualifying.

Fast Facts: The favorite yet again, the world's top-ranked team has the most talented players and is expected to have an easy time reaching its fourth straight final.

Ecuador (37)

Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez.

Key players: Agustin Delgado, Ivan Hurtado, Geovanny Espinoza.

World Cup record and best finish: Second appearance; first round (2002).

Last appearance: First round 2002.

World Cup odds: 125-1.

How qualified: Third in South American qualifying.

Fast Facts: Ecuador finished third in its qualifying group by earning the majority of its points playing at high altitude at home in Quito. It might struggle in low-altitude Germany.

Paraguay (30)

Coach: Anibal Ruiz.

Key players: Roque Santa Cruz, Nelson Haedo Valdez, Nelson Cuevas.

World Cup record and best finish: Seventh appearance; second round (1998, 2002).

Last appearance: Second round 2002.

World Cup odds: 125-1.

How qualified: Fourth in South American qualifying.

Fast Facts: Without retired goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert, the Paraguayans will find it difficult to reach the second round for the third straight time.

Angola (62)

Coach: Luis Oliveira Goncalvez.

Key players: Fabrice Akwa, Flavio Amado.

World Cup record and best finish: First appearance.

Last appearance: First appearance.

World Cup odds: 400-1.

How qualified: Won African Group 4.

Fast Facts: Angola qualified ahead of Nigeria, but it is not expected to make it out of the first round.

Ghana (50)

Coach: Ratomir Dujkovic.

Key players: Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah, Samuel Kuffour.

World Cup record and best finish: First appearance.

Last appearance: First appearance.

World Cup odds: 200-1.

How qualified: Won African Group 2.

Fast Facts: If Essien shines, the team could surprise some others, as Senegal, Nigeria and Cameroon did at past tournaments.

Ivory Coast (41)

Coach: Robert Nouzarat.

Key players: Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure, Aruna Dindane.

World Cup record and best finish: First appearance.

Last appearance: First appearance.

World Cup odds: 66-1.

How qualified: Won African Group 3.

Fast Facts: Led by Drogba, Ivory Coast is believed to be the African team with the best chance to repeat Senegal's quarterfinal performance from 2002.

Togo (56)

Coach: Stephen Keshi.

Key players: Emmanuel Adebayor, Sheriff Toure.

World Cup record and best finish: First appearance.

Last appearance: First appearance.

World Cup odds: 400-1.

How qualified: Won African Group 1.

Fast Facts: Possibly the biggest surprise of the African qualifying campaign, Togo will be an even bigger surprise if it makes it out of the first round.

Tunisia (28)

Coach: Roger Lemerre.

Key players: Karim Saidi, Silva dos Santos, Jose Clayton.

World Cup record and best finish: Fourth appearance; first round (1978, 1998, 2002).

Last appearance: First round 2002.

World Cup odds: 300-1.

How qualified: Won African Group 5.

Fast Facts: The African Cup champion has improved with Brazilian-born players Silva dos Santos and Jose Clayton and could reach the second round if it gets a favorable draw.

Iran (19)

Coach: Branko Ivankovic.

Key players: Ali Daei, Mohammad Nosrati.

World Cup record and best finish: Third appearance; first round (1978, 1998).

Last appearance: First round 1998.

World Cup odds: 500-1.

How qualified: Second in Asian Group B.

Fast Facts: Iran's ranking more reflects the standard of teams it plays rather than the impact it can make at the World Cup. It might not finish last in its group, but is unlikely to do much better.

Japan (15)

Coach: Zico.

Key players: Hidetoshi Nakata, Naohiro Takahara.

World Cup record and best finish: Third appearance; second round (2002).

Last appearance: Second round 2002.

World Cup odds: 125-1.

How qualified: Won Asian Group B.

Fast Facts: With several players in Europe and a Brazilian coach with extensive World Cup experience, the Japanese could make it back to the second round despite playing without home-field advantage.

Saudi Arabia (32)

Coach: Gabriel Calderon.

Key players: Sulley Ali Muntari, Sami al-Jaber.

World Cup record and best finish: Fourth appearance; second round (1994).

Last appearance: First round 2002.

World Cup odds: 500-1.

How qualified: Won Asian Group A.

Fast Facts: The Saudis edged South Korea in their final qualifying group, but don't expect them to make waves in Germany.

South Korea (29)

Coach: Dick Advocaat.

Key players: Park Ji-sung, Lee Young-pyo.

World Cup record and best finish: Seventh appearance; semifinals (2002).

Last appearance: Semifinals 2002.

World Cup odds: 300-1.

How qualified: Second in Asian Group A.

Fast Facts: The South Koreans struggled in qualifying and brought on Dutch coach Dick Advocaat after reaching the tournament for the seventh time. A return trip to the semifinals will be a tall order.

Costa Rica (21)

Coach: Alexandre Guimaraes.

Key players: Paulo Wanchope, Danny Fonseca, Ronald Gomez.

World Cup record and best finish: Third appearance; second round (1990).

Last appearance: First round 2002.

World Cup odds: 500-1.

How qualified: Third in CONCACAF's final group.

Fast Facts: The Costa Ricans won their qualifying group four years ago, but a third-place finish this time shows their aging stars may be past their prime.

Mexico (7)

Coach: Ricardo Lavolpe.

Key players: Rafael Marquez, Jared Borgetti.

World Cup record and best finish: 13th appearance; quarterfinals (1970, 1986).

Last appearance: Second round 2002.

World Cup odds: 50-1.

How qualified: Second in CONCACAF's final group.

Fast Facts: Mexico goes into every World Cup thinking it has a chance to win it, but with few players with European experience it's not likely to happen this time.

United States (8)

Coach: Bruce Arena.

Key players: Landon Donovan, Claudio Reyna, DaMarcus Beasley.

World Cup record and best finish: Eighth appearance; semifinals (1930).

Last appearance: Quarterfinals 2002.

World Cup odds: 80-1.

How qualified: Won CONCACAF's final group.

Fast Facts: The Americans need a favorable draw more than most teams, then must show they can win in Europe, where they are 1-8-2 under Arena.

Trinidad and Tobago (51)

Coach: Leo Beenhakker.

Key player: Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy.

World Cup record and best finish: First appearance.

Last appearance: First appearance.

World Cup odds: 750-1.

How qualified: Beat Bahrain in playoff.

Fast Facts: Short on players with major experience, anything other than three straight defeats will be a surprise.

Australia (49)

Coach: Guus Hiddink.

Key players: Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell.

World Cup record and best finish: Second appearance; first round (1974).

Last appearance: First round 1974.

World Cup odds: 125-1.

How qualified: Beat Uruguay in playoff.

Fast Facts: Hiddink led the Netherlands to the semifinals in 1998 and South Korea to the last four in 2002. Taking the Aussies as far would be a minor miracle.