Road to Brazil
Sky Sports picks the star men to keep an eye on, takes a look at the background of each nation and remembers the previous best records at World Cups after the draw for the groups for next summer's finals
By Peter Fraser - Follow me on Twitter @SkySportsPeteF
Last Updated: 07/12/13 1:14pm
The draw for the 2014 World Cup has taken place and we now know all the groups which will be taking place in Brazil next summer.
We have taken an in-depth look at England's opponents in Group D but what about the other games ahead of the finals?
Here, we select the star men to keep an eye on, examine the background of each nation and pick out their previous best records at World Cup finals.
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari
Star man: Neymar
Tournament best: Winners 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002
Success at the Confederations Cup last summer has raised hopes of a record-extending sixth World Cup triumph on home soil next summer. Scolari has previous after taking them to victory in 2002, and if Barcelona forward Neymar shines then Brazil could be about to witness the mother of all parties.
Coach: Niko Kovac
Star man: Mario Mandzukic
Tournament best: Third 1998
They may not be the class of '98 standard but there is enough quality within the squad with the talents of Bayern Munich's Mandzukic and Real Madrid's Luka Modric supplemented by the likes of Niko Kranjcar, Eduardo and Nikica Jelavic.
Coach: Miguel Herrera
Star man: Javier Hernandez
Tournament best: Quarter-finals 1970, 1986
They needed the intercontinental play-offs to qualify, but routed New Zealand 9-3 on aggregate once there. A blend of seasoned veterans and emerging stars - built around the focal point of Manchester United striker Hernandez - will make Mexico a dangerous proposition in Brazil.
Coach: Volker Finke
Star man: Samuel Eto'o
Tournament best: Quarter-finals 1990
They may be a way off emulating the ground-breaking Cameroon side of 1990 but they remain a competitive force. Eto'o's best days are well behind him but he is still the figurehead for the side, for whom Stephane Mbia, Alex Song and Jean Makoun also play an important role.
Coach: Vicente del Bosque
Star man: Andres Iniesta
Tournament best: Winners 2010
Having enjoyed the best spell in their country's history there is a sense that Spain are not as strong as they once were as their golden generation loses some of its lustre. However, that does not mean the depth of their talent should be underestimated as the likes of Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and Michu have added new impetus while the quality of Iniesta, David Silva and Xavi remains.
Coach: Louis van Gaal
Star man: Robin van Persie
Tournament best: Runners-up 1974, 1978, 2010
Van Gaal made amends for his failure to lead the Oranje to the 2002 tournament with an impressive qualification campaign, but memories are still fresh of their awful showing at Euro 2012. If the egos can be managed they could go far, although getting to the final again seems unlikely.
Coach: Jorge Sampaoli
Star man: Alexis Sanchez
Tournament best: Third 1962
Chile boast a good combination of experienced campaigners like Claudio Bravo, Pablo Contreras and Jorge Valdivia with exciting younger players including Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez and Fiorentina's Matias Fernandez. Demonstrated their potential by playing England off the park in a November friendly at Wembley.
Coach: Ange Postecoglou
Star man: Robbie Kruse
Tournament best: Last 16 2006
The Socceroos qualified from the Asian section but some terrible friendly results, plus a failure to truly refresh an ageing squad, cost German coach Holger Osieck his job. Getting out of the group phase may be the best they can hope for.
Coach: Jose Pekerman
Star man: Radamel Falcao
Tournament best: Last 16 1990
Qualified in relative comfort and playing the finals in South America should also be an advantage to Pekerman's side. In Falcao they have a born goalscorer, allied to the creative talents of his Monaco team-mate James Rodriguez, and they will feel well capable of at least matching their best-ever World Cup performance.
Coach: Fernando Santos
Star man: Georgios Samaras
Tournament best: Group stage 1994, 2010
Goals have been a problem and so the pressure will be on the likes of Samaras and veteran Dimitris Salpingidis to deliver up front, particularly if Greece can keep things tight at the back as they have done throughout qualifying.
Coach: Sabri Lamouchi
Star man: Yaya Toure
Tournament best: Group stage 2006, 2010
The African nation possess plenty of goal threat from Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure but they have struggled to transfer that into success at major tournaments despite regularly being one of their continent's standard-bearers.
Coach: Alberto Zaccheroni
Star man: Keisuke Honda
Tournament best: Last 16 2002, 2010
Stormed to qualification in their pool and Zaccheroni has moulded them into a strong squad, but three defeats out of three at the Confederations Cup last summer leaves them open to question about their top-level credentials.
Coach: Ottmar Hitzfeld
Star man: Xherdan Shaqiri
Tournament best: Quarter-finals 1934, 1938, 1954
Hitzfeld will be one of the most experienced coaches among the 32 finalists, and he oversees a group featuring several star names from the German Bundesliga. A new generation which has impressed at under-age tournaments in recent years - spearheaded by Bayern Munich's Shaqiri - are now poised to strut their stuff at senior level. They arguably had the easiest route to qualification of all the European entrants however.
Coach: Reinaldo Rueda
Star man: Antonio Valencia
Tournament best: Last 16 2006
Although Ecuador lost their final qualifier to Chile, they secured automatic qualification on goal difference alone ahead of Uruguay. Their recent successes have come on the back of the emergence of players like Valencia, Cristian Noboa and Felipe Caicedo.
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Star man: Franck Ribery
Tournament best: Winners 1998
Scraped through qualifying after coming from 2-0 down in the first play-off leg to beat Ukraine. In Ribery they possess a world-class wide man while the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Valbuena offer additional quality in midfield.
Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez
Star man: Wilson Palacios
Tournament best: Group stages 1982, 2010
Honduras have undergone several changes since South Africa, but pulled it all together in time to enjoy a successful qualifying campaign, finally sealing their place with a 2-2 draw against Jamaica in the final match.
Coach: Alejandro Sabella
Star man: Lionel Messi
Tournament best: Winners 1978, 1986
Barcelona superstar Messi will turn 27 during next summer's tournament and this looks his best chance to add major international glory to his glittering club successes. Plenty of other attacking options are also available to coach Sabella, but the defence might be a weak link against top-class opposition.
Coach: Safet Susic
Star man: Edin Dzeko
Tournament best: Never qualified
The nation born out of the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s is heading into uncharted territory. They will rely heavily on the Champions League experience of Manchester City striker Dzeko and midfielders Miralem Pjanic and captain Emir Spahic while in Asmir Begovic they have a top-class goalkeeper.
Coach: Carlos Queiroz
Star man: Javad Nekounam
Tournament best: Group stage 1978, 1998, 2006
Topped their qualification pool ahead of South Korea and although the side contains players like Nekounam with European pedigree, it is difficult to see them progressing beyond the groups.
Coach: Stephen Keshi
Star man: Victor Moses
Tournament best: Last 16 1994, 1998
Moses may only be 22 but has quickly become a key player since making his debut for the Super Eagles in 2012. Goalkeeper and captain Vincent Enyeama provides stability from the back with Chelsea's John Obi Mikel their midfield enforcer.
Coach: Joachim Low
Star man: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Tournament best: Winners 1954, 1974, 1990 (all as West Germany)
Arguably Europe's best hope of bringing the trophy back from South America. Low's side is littered with players steeped in top-level experience and this may be the time for Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Schweinsteiger et al to make the final step at international level.
Coach: Paulo Bento
Star man: Cristiano Ronaldo
Tournament best: Third 1966
In Ronaldo Portugal possess a player worthy of gracing the game's biggest stage but therein lies their problem as they rely so heavily on the Real Madrid forward's unquestionable star quality. Frequently unstoppable but when the world's best defenders can isolate him he has few team-mates who can make the difference.
Coach: James Kwesi Appiah
Star man: Asamoah Gyan
Tournament best: Quarter-finals 2010
Ghana have often been the standard-bearers for African football and their controversial heart-breaking last-eight exit on their home continent at the last World Cup prevented them making history. Captain Gyan provided most of the goals in qualifying but midfielder Michael Essien, despite his injury problems, remains a pivotal player while the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sulley Muntari and Andre Ayew provide considerable experience.
Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
Star man: Clint Dempsey
Tournament best: Third 1930
Klinsmann struggled initially to make his mark but his team ultimately qualified with comparative comfort. Reaching the quarter-finals looks like a realistic goal.
Coach: Marc Wilmots
Star man: Eden Hazard
Tournament best: Fourth 1986
Back at the finals over a decade since their last appearance, Wilmots presides over a highly capable generation of players who could go far in Brazil.
Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic
Star man: Madjid Bougherra
Tournament best: Group stages 1982, 1986, 2010
Scraped through qualifying on away goals against Burkina Faso, who have never made it to a World Cup, and are likely to struggle in Brazil having had a poor showing at the African Nations Cup.
Coach: Fabio Capello
Star man: Alexander Kokorin
Tournament best: Fourth 1966 (as the USSR)
Russia's recent World Cup record is a story of failure but Brazil offers the 2018 hosts the chance to start redressing the balance. Having missed three of the last four tournaments and not progressed beyond the group stage since 1986, topping Group F ahead of Portugal suggests things may be about to improve with the promise offered by 22-year-old forward Kokorin backed by the experience of the likes of goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and striker Alexander Kerzhakov.
Coach: Hong Myung-bo
Star man: Son Heung-min
Tournament best: Fourth 2002
Koreans hope that 2002 captain Hong can inspire the current crop, but an appearance in the last 16 might be the best they can achieve.