Post Ranking: 8

Region: Europe

World Cup History: 12th appearance, made semifinals in 1950

Top Player: F Raul

Lowdown: Spain has appeared in eight consecutive World Cup finals but has never placed higher than fourth. Hopes for a better finish in 2006 were tempered when the team failed to qualify by winning its European qualifying group and had to secure a spot in the finals by beating Slovakia in a two-game playoff.


Post Ranking: 18

Region: Europe

World Cup History: First appearance

Top Player: F Andriy Shevchenko

Lowdown: Shevchenko has scored at least 23 goals in four of his six seasons with AC Milan. He is one of the few Ukranian players, however, who plays in a top league in Europe.


Post Ranking: 28

Region: Africa

World Cup History: Fourth appearance

Top Player: MF Hamed Namouchi

Lowdown: Tunisia had a strong showing at the Confederations Cup in Germany last summer and was clearly one of Africa's best teams in qualifying. The team has won just one game in the finals, however, in its first appearance in 1978.

Saudi Arabia

Post Ranking: 30

Region: Asia

World Cup History: Fourth appearance, advanced to second round in 1994

Top Player: F Sami Al Jaber

Lowdown: Saudi Arabia is back, and these finals have to go better than 2002, don't they? In Japan, the Saudis went 0-3, allowing 12 goals and scoring none. The team went undefeated in 12 qualifiers for Germany.

Forward Raul is Spain's key cog.