Host nation + pre-tournament favourites = what can possibly go wrong?
A tournament too far, or a shot at glory inspired by a one-time Brazil international?
After being there or thereabouts so often, can they finally win something?
A World Cup win in the home of their bitter rivals — surely not?
What’s it to be, Azzurri — more 2006-like heroics, or a repeat of 2010’s dreadful showing?
The reigning Ballon d’Or winner has never won a World Cup. Can Cristiano Ronaldo buck the trend?
They’re too good and too often discussed to be considered “dark horses,” aren’t they?
Their big three stars are all 30-plus — can they come together for old times’ sake?
Falcao made them fashionable, but can they thrive without their talisman?
Another hipster choice, but will they even escape a group featuring both 2012 finalists?
Susceptible at the back, though strong in attack … but how fit is Luis Suarez?
It can’t be worse than 2010 (can it?), but without Franck Ribery, what can Les Bleus achieve?
Will the real Wayne Rooney finally show up at a World Cup?
They beat Spain in the 2010 opener — can their young stars make an impact in Brazil?
Playing for second in their group, or capable of giving the hosts a bloody nose in the opener?
16. Ivory Coast
There’s no “Group of Death” excuse this time, but have their veterans’ legs got anything left?
So close to the last four in South Africa, but surely their group this year is too tough?
Can Fabio Capello make everyone forget the embarrassing last time he was on the World Cup stage?
Facing their coach’s homeland, Ronaldo and their World Cup nemesis Ghana, how can they escape their group?
Was their shambolic qualifying campaign a teachable moment or a sign of things
Can Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda shine for their country after disappointing club seasons?
The Super Eagles are African champions, but can they transfer that form to the world stage?
23. Bosnia and Herzegovina
It’s their debut on the big stage — will a potent forward line help them make a big impact?
They’re the lowest-ranked of the six South American participants — is that fair?
25. South Korea
Can these perennial qualifiers recapture the spirit of their 2002 semifinal run?
We’ll hear all about Euro 2004’s success every time they play, but can they make some new memories?
27. Costa Rica
If they are just to be spoilers in their group, which of England, Uruguay and Italy will they frustrate?
Twenty-four years after Roger Milla danced them to the Italia ’90 semis, can they make a splash in Samuel Eto’o’s swan song?
There’s no way the Socceroos can escape a group featuring Spain, Netherlands and Chile, is there?
They beat the U.S. and won in Mexico during qualifying — should they be ranked higher?
They frustrated England in a bore draw four years ago — can they catch anyone out this time around?
Are Carlos Queiroz’s men really the worst team in the World Cup?