World Cup 2010, Group G
Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1
Key man: Robinho
Weak spot: Just for once, a lack of flair
It seems curious that Brazil are heading into this World Cup with question marks over the ability to claim their traditional position as entertainers in chief and yet coach Dunga wouldn't have it any other way.
The 1994 World Cup winning skipper has spent the last four years moulding this Brazilian side in the way he sees fit and that has seen them abandon some of their famous extravagance and flair, reverting instead to a system that is designed to ensure their star turns are given the defensive support they require first and foremost.
Any side featuring the scoring talents of Sevilla's Luis Fabiano, the brilliance of winger Robinho, the energy of Elano on the other flank and the potential magic of Real Madrid superstar Kaka should offer plenty in the way of attacking mastery, but don't expect the Brazilian mindset to be focused on all-out attack in South Africa.
Dunga's side are much more patient in their approach, hitting the opponent on the break with pace and power and making full use of set-pieces around the box. This is a different Brazil, but they have proved to be effective and their single-minded coach will make no excuses for employing his rigid tactical masterplan in South Africa.
The decision to omit star names Ronaldinho and Adriano from his final World Cup squad confirmed Dunga is no respecter of reputations as his Seleção has been compared time and again to Italian sides of old, with two holding midfielders in Gilberto Silva (Panathinakos) and Felipe Melo (Juventus) and a rock-solid defensive line providing a platform for the attacking stars to sparkle.
Brazil goalkeepers have not always been entirely reliable down the years, but Inter Milan's Julio Cesar is a fine custodian and club-mates Lucio and Maicon help to make up a watertight central defensive wall that is complimented by the presence of Roma's Juan.
With the back door firmly slammed shut, Robinho, Elano and Fabiano can cause havoc at the other end, but there must be some concern over the form and fitness of Kaka after what has been a troubled first season for the 2007 World Player of the Year at Real Madrid.
While fellow summer signing Cristiano Ronaldo turned on the style in his first campaign in the Spanish capital, Kaka has received plenty of criticism, so his task this summer will be to confirm that his dip in form is not a sign of a terminal decline.
Coach: Sven Goran Eriksson
Preferred formation: 4-4-2
Key man: Didier Drogba
Wildcard: Emmanuel Eboue
Weak spot: Lack of time to prepare with new coach
Experienced Swedish coach Sven Goran Eriksson has had a matter of weeks to get to grips with his new posting as coach of African powerhouses Ivory Coast and it will not take him long to appreciate he has a chance to make something special happen this summer.
Eriksson has bags of World Cup experience from his quarter-final near misses in 2002 and 2006 while in charge of England, with those campaigns fought after the coach had formed a close bond with his team captain, the iconic David Beckham.
This wily old veteran will quickly appreciate that developing a similarly close relationship with Ivory Coast skipper Didier Drogba will be a decent first plan. Hugely influential within the squad, the Chelsea striker also has plenty of sway with the powers that be in the national team administration, so getting the occasionally moody and unpredictable Didier on side should be Eriksson's first challenge.
After that, he will need to quickly bed down a formation for a side that has long been hailed as the best in African football, while always seeming to fluff its lines when push and shove collide. A 4-4-2 line-up has generally been the Eriksson mantra down the years and he will not want to complicate too much when he has so little time to work with his new team.
He should be familiar with the bulk of his squad as flying full-back Emmanuel Eboue has spent several years raiding the flanks for Arsenal, while Kolo Toure is a familiar figure from his time with the Gunners and now Manchester City in the heart of the Ivorian defence.
Ex-Tottenham midfielder Didier Zokora is a bundle of energy in the midfield and Barcelona's Yaya Toure is a fine performer alongside him, but there are some question marks surrounding the players on the fringes of Eriksson's squad as some appear to lack the proven stamp all managers look for.
However, youthful innocence can also be a positive and international novice Cheik Ismael Tiote is one to watch this summer as he is heading to the World Cup on the back of a fine season that finished with him lifting the Dutch title with FC Twente. Now he needs to step forward and confirm his worth in South Africa.
Salomon Kalou is not the most potent of partners for the main man up front, but when you have the mighty Drogba in your ranks, a potent cutting edge is always assured. Oozing with power and class, this could be the tournament that confirms the Chelsea hit-man as the best out-and-out striker in world football.
Coach: Carlos Queiroz
Preferred formation: 4-3-3
Key man: Cristiano Ronaldo
Weak spot: Lack of form a concern
A stuttering 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign confirmed all is not rosy in the Portuguese garden and it is hard to see how coach Carlos Queiroz will resolve his problems in time for this South African mission.
On paper, 2006 World Cup semi-finalists Portugal seem to have one of the most potent attacking sides in world football and yet it is neighbours Spain who have led the way in terms of converted promise into tangible success of late. For that reason, most observers will slot into the 'waiting to be convinced' queue when assessing the hopes of the Portuguese this summer.
Naturally, most of their hopes rest on the shoulders of the brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo, who has lived up to his billing in the grand manner after becoming the world's most expensive footballer following his £80 million move from Manchester United to Real Madrid last summer. Many a lesser mortal would have crumbled under the weight of such extraordinary expectation, but Ronaldo has delivered with goals and brilliant performances week after week.
His role in this Portugal side is to transform them from the ordinary to the brilliant and he is capable of doing just that single-handedly. However, he will have even more pressure to perform as his former United team-mate Nani, who would have been patrolling the other flank, has been ruled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury.
Sporting Lisbon's Liedson is the fortunate striker who should benefit from the quality wing service, but the trouble for Queiroz may start if his side come under pressure at the other end as age concerns have started to make this team look a little like yesterday's nearly men.
Deco is well past his best in midfield and creaking Chelsea team-mate Ricardo Carvalho also falls into that category after another season when injury has halted his progress. His club colleague Paulo Ferreira is another star on the wane, while Carvalho's central defensive partner Bruno Alves is entering the latter quarter of his career.
One performer Queiroz cannot do without is Real Madrid's Pepe, yet he has been struggling with a knee injury all season and heads to South Africa with question marks hanging over his form and fitness. At home in the heart of the defence or as a holding midfielder, his importance to the side cannot be overestimated and Portugal have to hope he is back to his best in good time.
The beauty of this Portugal side is that they are probably unsure of what to expect from their own World Cup adventure. Queiroz's men are either dark horses to go all the way or first round losers. We will wait and see.
Coach: Kim Jonh-Hun
Preferred formation: 5-3-1-1
Key man: Hong Young-Jo
Wildcard: Jong Tae-Se
Weak spot: Too many to mention
It's hard to find too many silver linings for North Korea after a group stage draw that left them as red-hot favourites to be the first team eliminated from this summer's World Cup finals.
Of the three entrants from the Far East, Kim Jonh-Hun's were always likely to be the ones who came up short, but an opening phase schedule that will see them thrown in at the deepest end of the World Cup pool suggests they will need more than armbands to survive.
It will come as no surprise that the Koreans will employ a defensive formation as they embark on their mission improbable. Cynics will suggest a ten-man defensive wall may be their only viable option, yet they will rely on a central defensive threesome of Ri Jun-Il (Sobaeksu), Ri Kwang-Chon (April 25) and Pak Chol-Jin (Amrokgang) to halt the predicted flow towards their goal.
Pak is probably the most experienced of those three, while his two comrades were pivotal member of the side that defied the odds and navigated a route through qualifying. However, they did not come up against players of the class of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo on their road to South Africa, meaning the step-up in class expected of them now is immense.
Nam Song-Chul is one of the most respected members of this North Korean side and he will fill a role on the left side of the defence, with the theory being he can get forward and support the attacking members of the team. However, such an ambition may not be converted into reality when the matches get underway.
If attacking is a possibility at any stage, Jong Tae-Se will be the leader of the front-line, with his physical presence offering the North Koreans a focal point up front. Having turned down the chance to play for both South Korea and Japan, this Kawasaki Frontale striker will want to prove he can make his mark even if service is limited this summer.
Supporting him will be Hong Young-Jo, the Russian based attacking star who has been playing with FC Rostov. This energetic performer revels in his role as the talisman and leader of this side and he may well be charged with directing operations from set-plays, which could represent North Korea's best scoring threat.
Mun In-Guk will aim to provide some stability in a midfield that is likely to struggle to get hold of the ball against their illustrious Group G opponents and try as anyone might, it is impossible to envisage anything other than a first-round exit for the dark horses from North Korea.
Miracles do happen, but this team will need to whip up the biggest shock in World Cup history against either Brazil, Portugal or the Ivory Coast to have any hope.