2014 World Cup team guide: Mexico

Gio dos Santos has matured greatly since leaving Spurs.

Credit: PA

Mexico

Group A fixtures:

Mexico v Cameroon
June 13 Natal, 1700

Brazil v Mexico
June 17 Fortaleza, 2000

Croatia v Mexico
June 23 Recife, 2100

FIFA World Ranking: 20

Head coach: Miguel Herrera

How they qualified: After winning Olympic gold at London 2012 (against Group A opponents Brazil), Mexico struggled to find anything like top gear for much of their World Cup campaign and only sneaked into the intercontinental playoffs because old rivals USA scored a late goal against Panama. Once there, and guided by new boss Manuel Herrera, who chose to select home-based players only, they routed New Zealand 9-3 on aggregate.

World Cup pedigree: Mexico have fallen in the Round of 16 at the last five attempts. Only twice have they made it to the quarter-finals, and on both occasions they were on home soil (1970 and 1986).

2014 World Cup team guide: South Korea

Lee Chung-Yong wears the captain's armband for South Korea.

Credit: PA

South Korea

Group H fixtures:

Russia v South Korea
June 17 Cuiaba, 2300

South Korea v Algeria
June 22 Porto Alegre, 1700

South Korea v Belgium
June 26 Sao Paulo, 2100

FIFA World Ranking: 54

Head coach: Hong Myung-Bo

How they qualified: Stuttered and stumbled at times, with a shock defeat to lowly Lebanon costing Cho Kwangrae his job midway through the campaign. In the end they relied on Qatar to beat Uzbekistan to confirm their own qualification.

World Cup pedigree: They made the semi-finals as co-hosts in 2002, beating Italy and Spain along the way before a reality check against Germany. In 2010 they made history again by reaching the knockout stages for the first time on foreign soil, before going down to Uruguay in the last 16.

2014 World Cup team guide: Japan

Shinji Kagawa is Japan's main man, but he's yet to shine for Manchester United.

Credit: PA

Japan

Group C fixtures:

Ivory Coast v Japan
June 14 Recife, 2300

Japan v Greece
June 19 Natal, 2300

Japan v Colombia
June 24 Cuiaba, 2100

FIFA World Ranking: 48

Head coach: Alberto Zaccheroni

How they qualified: Boss Alberto Zaccheroni has overseen a period of transition in the last couple of years, ditching the dead wood and bringing in new faces. Losses to Uzbekistan and Korea DPR were low points in qualifying, before a strong finish got them back on track.

World Cup pedigree: This will be Japan's fifth successive World Cup finals appearance. They have twice made it to the Round of 16, in 2002 on home soil, and last time out in South Africa, when they lost to Paraguay on penalties.

2014 World Cup team guide: Ivory Coast

Didier Drogba is the dominant figure for Ivory Coast. Brazil 2014 will be his World Cup swansong.

Credit: PA

Ivory Coast

Group C fixtures:

Ivory Coast v Japan
June 14 Recife, 2300

Colombia v Ivory Coast
June 19 Brasilia, 1700

Greece v Ivory Coast
June 24 Fortaleza, 2100

FIFA World Ranking: 17

Head coach: Sabri Lamouchi

How they qualified: Ivory Coast were strong in the group stages but were on the verge of being eliminated in the play-offs. They were taken to the limit by Senegal until former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou stepped up with a late goal to secure a passage to Brazil.

World Cup pedigree: The Elephants have never made it past the group stages of a World Cup finals – they do like a Group of Death, but avoided one this time around – and will be on a mission to erase that surprisingly poor record.

2014 World Cup team guide: Italy

Andrea Pirlo makes Italy purr like a supercar.

Credit: PA

Italy

Group D fixtures:

England v Italy
June 14 Manaus, 2300

Italy v Costa Rica
June 20 Recife, 1700

Italy v Uruguay
June 24 Natal, 1700

FIFA World Ranking: 7

Head coach: Cesare Prandelli

How they qualified: Italy surged through Group B unbeaten. Historically pragmatic in qualifying, Cesare Prandelli has overseen something of a mini revolution for La Nazionale. Italy are a different prospect these days, and one no longer defined by their cautious catenaccio tag.

World Cup pedigree: More purring Ferrari than battered Fiat. This will be Italy's 14th consecutive appearance at a World Cup finals, and with four wins (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006) and two runner-up positions on the board, they are second only to Brazil in terms of success.

2014 World Cup team guide: Iran

Iran topped their group in qualifying.

Credit: PA

Iran

Group F fixtures:

Iran v Nigeria
June 16 Curitiba, 2000

Argentina v Iran
June 21 Belo Horizonte, 1700

Bosnia-Herzegovina v Iran
June 25 Salvador, 1700

FIFA World Ranking: 45

Head coach: Carlos Queiroz

How they qualified: In style. Topped their group ahead of Korea Republic and Uzbekistan, and conceded a miserly two goals in eight games.

World Cup pedigree: An infinitely satisfying 2-1 win over the USA at France '98 is their shining highlight.

2014 World Cup team guide: Honduras

Honduras have yet to win a match at a World Cup finals.

Credit: PA

Honduras

Group E fixtures:

France v Honduras
June 15 Porto Alegre, 2000

Honduras v Ecuador
June 20 Curitiba, 2300

Honduras v Switzerland
June 25 Manaus, 2100

FIFA World Ranking: 41

Head coach: Luis Fernando Suarez

How they qualified: Took the final direct CONCACAF qualifying spot behind USA and Costa Rica, dropping just four points along the way. Their campaign included a memorable win over Mexico at the Azteca.

World Cup pedigree: Just two World Cup appearances to their name, and no wins to report. They fell at the first hurdle in 1982 despite a draw with hosts Spain and exited early again in South Africa in 2010.

2014 World Cup team guide: Greece

Greece midfield general Georgios Karagounis is still going strong in his late thirties.

Credit: PA

Greece

Group C fixtures:

Colombia v Greece
June 14 Belo Horizonte, 1700

Japan v Greece
June 19 Natal, 2300

Greece v Ivory Coast
June 24 Fortaleza, 2100

FIFA World Ranking: 12

Head coach: Fernando Santos

How they qualified: Had a strong campaign but even then 25 points was only enough for second place in their group behind Bosnia-Herzegovina, meaning a hard-fought play-off victory over Romania was their route to the finals.

World Cup pedigree: Undistinguished. The Euro 2004 champions have only ever won one World Cup finals match: a 2-1 win over Nigeria in 2010. Their only other finals appearance came in 1994, when they failed to score a single goal and lost every game. The only way is up.