Every non-Brazilian's favorite other team, five-time winner Brazil is determined to do better than in 2006, when it was somewhat surprisingly eliminated by France in the quarterfinals. The flair and flamboyance typically associated with Brazil are still there, in the person of pivotal attacking midfielder and 2008 TIME 100 nominee Kaká, but coach Dunga favors a more disciplined European style of play that emphasizes strong defense and retaining possession. Brazil's among the hot favorites to reach the finals, although the battle to join it in the knockout round will be fierce: Portugal, featuring the silky skills of last year's World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, will hope to finish second, but standing in its way will be Africa's strongest team (and, as such, the one sure to win fanatical local support), Ivory Coast. The Ivorians feature such footballing household names as Chelsea's Didier Drogba, Barcelona's Yaya Toure, and his brother Kolo, the former Arsenal defender now at Manchester City.
Predicted Finishing Order
1. Brazil 2. Ivory Coast 3. Portugal 4. North Korea
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