Group F (contd.)
BrazilWhere to start…? They have the ‘fab five’ - Ronaldo and Adriano up front, Ronaldinho and Kaka supporting them and Robinho capable of replacing any of them from the bench - unless he starts a match with them… Some players have suffered injuries or lack of club form while others like Ronaldinho have been playing virtually twice a week since August Brazil have been known to under-achieve when expectation is high Cafu and Roberto Carlos in defence are nearing the end of their careers while other defensive options like Roque Junior and Lucio haven’t met with universal approval so far
CroatiaCroatia’s style of play is to sit back deep and hit their opponents quickly on the counter-attack Most of their best work goes through Niko Kranjcar, son of the coach Zlatko Kranjcar Croatia’s play can lack creativity, allowing themselves to be impeded by their own packed five-man midfield Their only star player is Rangers striker Dado Prso - the rest of the team don’t come close on quality Many of their goals come from set-pieces, and if Prso can be prevented from showing his skill, Croatia aren’t left with much to offer
South KoreaThe Koreans play an aggressive pressing game, trying to force their opponents into making mistakes Of their faults, they have a tendency not to be able to convert chances into goals Their star man is Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-Sung, but of their foreign contingent they also have in their ranks Lee Young-Pyo, left back at Tottenham Hotspur South Korea's chances have been dealt a blow after striker Lee Dong-Gook (who spearheaded their 3-man attack) suffered a cruciate ligament injury The Koreans employ a 4-3-3 formation with which they forge strong links between the midfield and forward lines
TogoArsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor scored 10 goals in Togo's qualifying campaign, and most of their play revolves around him Togo have had to borrow players with tenuous national links from Ghana and Nigeria in order to bolster the squad Togo did have a good team spirit and increasing self-belief during qualifiers, but since then the coach has been replaced, following which they lost all three games at the African Nations Cup A lack of preparation before the World Cup could mean the team play in a disjointed fashion Togo have suffred huge disruption prior to the World Cup - Coach Otto Pfister resigned in the last few days and has since been reinstated (according to one source), players have been caught up in pay disputes and Pfister has incurred protests from followers of the team after dropping Adebayor briefly at the start of the year.
FranceNew coach Raymond Domenech has irritated some of the older players with his over-officious style since taking over from Aime Jacquet after the last World Cup They began their qualifying campaign by failing to score in their first three games against Ireland, Israel and Switzerland after several of the older players retired Having reversed their decisions, Zidane, Thuram and Makelele brought some much needed quality back to the team and they earned qualification at the last moment Elsewhere in the team, their talent is still of a predictably high quality - Henry and Trezeguet featuring in attack and Gallas and Thuram shoring up the defence At Euro 2004, much of the play revolved around Zidane but they may need to change that and make Henry the main focus instead Since winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, they were eliminated in the first round of the 2002 World Cup and the quarter-finals of Euro 2004
SwitzerlandThe Swiss are a compact, well-drilled side, but their midfield play is somewhat one-dimensional - hard-working, but not imaginativeThey rely heavily on striker Alex Frei for goals, however he's only just recovered from a groin injury Goalkeeper Zuberbuhler is usually dependable but has made several mistakes lately The full backs are an interesting combination of veteran Patrick Muller and rookie Philippe Senderos of Arsenal The Swiss play a counter-attacking game - easy enough to implement against a fast-playing side like France, but against Togo...?