10 of 32: Brazil's World Cup, "America's" Competition

On Friday at 11am EST, the World Cup draw will be held at the Costa do Sauipe resort in eastern Brazil. Here’s all you need to know about every qualified team on the American continent. 

Workers put the finishing touches on the stage, which will host 2 hours of flamboyant rif-raf, and 30 mins of insanely intense touching of ping pong balls.

Fun fact: No European team has ever won a World Cup on Latin American soil. 

Will Spain break the trend and win their second consecutive World Cup title?

History offers La Roja a big challenge. Only South American clubs have claimed the trophy in the demanding climates of Latin America.

With 10 of the 32 World Cup teams coming from the American continent, it’s the areas greatest representation at a World Cup since 1930. As proud supporters of the Western Hemisphere, we like our odds. 

Hosts Brazil are joined by Argentina and Colombia as top-seeded teams, while the rest of the pack eagerly await a draw that will highlight what’s being called the strongest World Cup field ever. 

We highly prefer the Spanish term for 'Pot'. That is, 'Bombo'. Way cooler.


Coach: Alejandro Sabella

Argentina cruised through South American qualifying, topping the group by two points over Colombia after losing just twice, including in their final match in Uruguay after qualification had already been secured.

World champions the last two times the World Cup was held in Latin America, in 1978 and 1986, Sabella's side must be serious contenders to triumph in the land of their bitter rivals.

Their attack, led by, uh, Lionel Messi but also featuring world-class talent such as Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria, is as good as any in world football but there are concerns in defence and in goal, where regular first-choice Sergio Romero is currently out of favour at club level.


Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari

The pressure on the host nation is immense as they look to go one better than in  1950 when they were runners-up in the last World Cup to be held on Brazilian soil.

Amid concern about performances, Mano Menezes was sacked late last year, with Scolari, the coach of Brazil's 2002 World Cup-winning side, returning to the helm. And he led the Selecao to glory at the Confederations Cup on home soil earlier this year, with Brazil destroying reigning world champions Spain 3-0 in the final.

The five-time winners can call on the likes of Thiago Silva and Neymar, although their are questions of squad depth in comparison to some of their rivals.


Coach: Jorge Sampaoli

Jorge Sampaoli replaced fellow Argentine Claudio Borghi as coach of La Roja and steered them safely through the end of their South American qualifying campaign, five wins and a draw seeing them finish third behind Argentina and Colombia.

Sampaoli enjoyed great success at club level with Universidad de Chile before taking the national team job, and his attacking team promises to be a fun watch in Brazil, just as Marcelo Bielsa's side was in 2010.

Arturo Vidal of Juventus and Alexis Sanchez of Barcelona are the biggest stars in a solid squad pinned as a neutral's favorite. Chile were recently impressive winners in a friendly against England at Wembley.


Coach: Jose Pekerman

Colombia qualified comfortably behind Argentina in South American qualifying to reach their first World Cup finals since France 1998.

Argentine coach Pekerman has developed an attractive side with Radamel Falcao leading the line but with the likes of Carlos Bacca, James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez also featuring.

Los Cafeteros have never previously made a major impression at a World Cup finals but they are currently ranked fourth in the world and are considered dangerous outsiders by many heading to Brazil. Pekerman coached his home country to the quarter-finals in Germany in 2006.


Coach: Jorge Luis Pinto

Costa Rica finished second behind the United States in the final CONCACAF qualifying group to return to the World Cup after missing out on a place in South Africa in 2010. Maverick Fulham forward Bryan Ruiz captains 'Los Ticos', who will do very well to progress beyond the group stage.

Coach Pinto is a Colombian, but has close links to the Central American nation, having enjoyed success there at club level in the last decade. He previously took charge of the team for a spell during the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup.


Coach: Reinaldo Rueda

Ecuador qualified for their third World Cup finals after finishing ahead of Uruguay on goal difference to take the final automatic berth from South America.

However, while Reinaldo Rueda's side were excellent at home, they failed to win any of their qualifiers away from Quito, where the altitude gives them a huge advantage.

They were also shaken by the sudden death of striker Chucho Benitez in July, but they will go to Brazil with a squad captained by Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia and featuring powerful forward Felipe Caicedo. Coach Rueda is a Colombian who took Honduras to the 2010 World Cup finals.


Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez

Honduras finished four points ahead of Mexico to take the final automatic qualifying berth in the CONCACAF zone after a campaign which featured a win away to the Mexicans at the Azteca stadium.

The Central American nation of just over eight million people are through to their third World Cup finals, and second in a row, with Suarez following in the footsteps of his fellow Colombian Reinaldo Rueda, who took 'Los Catrachos' to South Africa in 2010.

The squad features a handful of European-based players, such as Celtic left-back Emilio Izaguirre and Wilson Palacios of Stoke City.


Coach: Miguel Herrera

Mexico will be appearing at their sixth straight finals, although they needed a play-off win against New Zealand to make it to Brazil after enduring a disastrous qualifying campaign. 

'El Tri' only won twice and scored just seven goals in their final 10-game CONCACAF group, and there were three coaching changes before Herrera eventually steered the side through. Herrera, who has been in charge of Club America, will now stay in charge of the national team as Mexico, who won Olympic gold at London 2012, aim to reach at least the last 16.

Herrera used a squad of domestic-based players for the New Zealand play-off but can also call on foreign-based stars such as Javier Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos. He must also try to convince Real Sociedad's Carlos Vela to join the squad.


Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

The USA turned to Klinsmann, who won the World Cup with West Germany in 1990 and coached his unified country to the semi-finals on home soil in 2006, to lead them to a seventh successive finals.

They finished top in CONCACAF qualifying and also won this year's Gold Cup but they will do well to match their previous best performance of reaching the quarter-finals in 2002.

Klinsmann's team contains established European-based names such as Tim Howard, Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones.


Coach: Oscar Tabarez

A World Cup in Brazil will be special for Uruguay, who famously beat their neighbours in the decisive game at the Maracana to win the title in 1950.

The current team are unlikely to match that remarkable achievement, but Tabarez's side did reach the semi-finals in South Africa in 2010 before winning the Copa America in Argentina in 2011.

'La Celeste' struggled in qualifying, though, finishing fifth in South America and needing to beat Jordan in a play-off to go through. Tabarez, who these days walks with a stick, will lean on the world-class quality of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani in attack.

(Adapted from NTN24 News)

Peter KarlComment