Wednesday, Jun. 02, 2010


Manager: Dunga

Best: Winners (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)

Brazil have long been the second-favorite side of fans of the beautiful game from all other countries. The five-time winners (and the only team to have appeared at every finals) have long been associated with the "samba" style of poetic football typified by the legendary Pelé, although that crowd-pleasing style has also sometimes been their downfall when Brazil has been reluctant to grind out ugly wins, forgoing free-flowing offense in favor of a dour defensive game.

Look for that to (partially) change, under the tutelage of coach (and former winning captain) Dunga, whose Italian-inspired tactics can upset Brazilian fans, as he promotes the efficiency and prudence typified by playing two defensive midfielders — Felipe Melo and Gilberto Silva — over the excitement associated with the likes of Ronaldinho, who didn't make the squad. Still, any side containing the likes of Real Madrid's majestic midfielder (and TIME 100 alumnus) Kaká, the trickery of Robinho and the ruthless finishing of striker Luis Fabiano, won't be able to contain their natural way of playing for the entire tournament.

Player to watch: If it weren't for Argentina's Lionel Messi, Kaká might have a lock on the title of world's best player. And if his team fares better than Messi's, he'll reclaim the spotlight.