Post Ranking: 1

Region: South America

World Cup History: Unmatched -- 18 appearances, five championships

Top Player: F Ronaldinho

Lowdown: Brazil is the clear favorite, with tradition and talent on its side. GK Dida may be the best in the world, Ronaldinho was named European player of the year, and the team has plenty of other attacking options -- including superstar Ronaldo.


Post Ranking: 10

Region: Europe

World Cup History: Third appearance, made 1998 semifinals

Top Player: F Dado Prso

Lowdown: Perhaps the team's most intriguing player is Ivan Klasnic, 25, who was born in Germany to Croatian parents and turned down an opportunity to play for the Germans. He and several other Croatians play in the German Bundesliga.


Post Ranking: 23

Region: Oceania

World Cup History: Second appearance

Top Player: GK Mark Schwarzer

Lowdown: The Socceroos topped Uruguay in a playoff for one of the last spots in the Cup. The team has several English Premier League players and is led by Coach Guus Hiddink, a Dutchman who guided South Korea in 2002.


Post Ranking: 22

Region: Asia

World Cup History: Third appearance, made second round in 2002

Top Player: Hidetoshi Nakata

Lowdown: Former Brazilian great Zico guides a Japanese team that won its group on home soil in 2002. Japan won the AFC Asian Cup in 2004 but could struggle to measure up to the European and South American powers.

European player of the year Ronaldinho, right, is a reason Brazil is favored.