Surrounded by global superstars such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, the name of the striker who hopes to fire Brazil to World Cup glory might have more than a few casual football fans rushing to Google. But as Brazil prepare to take on Panama in their penultimate friendly before the tournament begins, Fred, who plays for Fluminense, intends to change that.
“We’re extremely confident,” he tells me. “This might be the most important World Cup ever for Brazil. After all, the last time the World Cup was held here we lost. Now we want to exorcise the ghosts of 1950.” He is referring to the Maracanazo, the nickname for the final game of the 1950 World Cup, when the hosts were stunned by Uruguay in front of 200,000 expectant fans at the Maracana.
A strong, effective striker with an unerring eye for goal, Fred is not the kind of player to beat three men and score a Messi-style wonder goal, as he admitted in a recent interview with the Brazilian TV network Globo. “I never saw myself as being anything special,” he said, describing the early days of his career.
But he emerged as a key part of the side that swept aside Italy, Uruguay and Spain to lift the Confederations Cup last June. That triumph represented a long-awaited upswing in Brazil’s fortunes, after the country had struggled through a prolonged loss of form and confidence following defeat by the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the South Africa World Cup in 2010.
Fred, who was the Confederations Cup’s joint top scorer with five goals, including two in the final against Spain, puts a large part of the transformation down to the influence of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
“We feel we’re one of the favourites for the World Cup, and winning the Confederations Cup has a lot to do with that,” he says. “Scolari is like a father to us. He gives us a hard time, but he’s got a big heart. The players respect his honesty. He gives us tremendous confidence.”
World Cup 2014: All 32 squads
World Cup 2014: All 32 squads
1/32 Group A: Brazil
Brazil's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)
Defenders: Marcelo (Real Madrid), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (AS Roma), Maxwell, Thiago Silva (both Paris St Germain), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli)
Midfielders: Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Ramires, Willian, Oscar (all Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter Milan), Luiz Gustavo (VfL Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Forwards: Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neymar (Barcelona), Fred (Fluminense), Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg)
Cameroon's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Charles Itandje (Konyaspor), Sammy Ndjock (Fethiyespor), Feudjou Loic (Coton Sport)
Defenders: Allan Nyom (Granada), Nounkeu Dany (Besiktas), Cedric Djeugoue (Coton Sport), Aurelien Chedjou (Galatasaray), Nicolas Nkoulou (Marseille), Henri Bedimo (Lyon), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (QPR)
Midfielders: Enoh Eyong (Antalyaspor), Jean Makoun (Rennes), Joel Matip (Schalke 04), Stephane Mbia (Sevilla, on loan from QPR), Landry Nguemo (Bordeaux), Alexandre Song (Barcelona), Edgar Salli (Lens)
Forwards: Samuel Eto'o (Chelsea), Eric-Maxime Choupo-Moting (Mainz 05), Benjamin Moukandjo (Nancy), Vincent Aboubakar (Lorient), Pierre Achille Webo (Fenerbahce), Fabrice Olinga (Zulte Waregem)
Croatia's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov), Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Oliver Zelenika (Dinamo Zagreb)
Defenders: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Gordon Schildenfeld (Panathinaikos), Danijel Pranjic (Panathinaikos), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev), Sime Vrsaljko (Genoa)
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev), Ivan Perisic (Wolfsburg), Marcelo Brozovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivan Mocinic (Rijeka), Sammir (Getafe)
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich), Ivica Olic (Wolfsburg), Eduardo (Shakhtar Donetsk), Nikica Jelavic (Hull City), Ante Rebic (Fiorentina)
Mexico's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Jose de Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
Defenders: Miguel Layun (America), Carlos Salcido (Tigres), Paul Aguilar (America), Andres Guardado (Bayer Leverkusen), Hector Moreno (Espanyol), Francisco Javier Rodriguez (America), Diego Reyes (Porto), Rafael Marquez (Leon)
Midfielders: Miguel Angel Ponce (Toluca), Jose Juan Vazquez (Leon), Javier Aquino (Villarreal), Hector Herrera (Porto), Isaac Brizuela (Toluca), Marco Fabian (Cruz Azul), Carlos Pena (Leon)
Forwards: Oribe Peralta (Santos), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United), Giovani dos Santos (Villarreal), Raul Jimenez (America), Alan Pulido (Tigres)
5/32 Group B: Spain
Spain's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), David De Gea (Manchester United)
Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Xavi (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Juan Mata (Manchester United), David Silva (Manchester City)
Forwards: Pedro (Barcelona), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), David Villa (Atletico Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea)
Australia's provisional squad of 27 yet to be cut down to the required 23.
Goalkeepers: Mark Birighitti (Newcastle Jets), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Mat Ryan (Club Brugge)
Defenders: Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo), Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng Taishan), Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Bailey Wright (Preston North End)
Midfielders: Oliver Bozanic (Luzern), Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa), James Holland (Austria Vienna), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town), Matthew McKay (Brisbane Roar), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Tommy Oar (Utrecht), Tommy Rogic (Melbourne Victory), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Dario Vidosic (Sion)
Forwards: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Ben Halloran (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus 8), Matthew Leckie (FSV Frankfurt 1899), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets)
Chile's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile), Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica)
Defenders: Gary Medel (Cardiff City), Jose Rojas (Universidad de Chile), Eugenio Mena (Santos), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest)
Midfielders: Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Mauricio Isla (Juventus), Marcelo Diaz (Basel), Francisco Silva (Osasuna), Felipe Gutierrez (FC Twente), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Colo Colo), Carlos Carmona (Atalanta), Jean Beausejour (Wigan Athletic), Charles Aranguiz (Internacional), Miiko Albornoz (Malmo)
Forwards: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Eduardo Vargas (Valencia), Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras), Mauricio Pinilla (Cagliari), Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo), Fabian Orellana (Celta Vigo)
Holland's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Tim Krul (Newcastle), Michel Vorm (Swansea)
Defenders: Daley Blind (Ajax), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Joel Veltman (Ajax), Paul Verhaegh (Augsburg), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord)
Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Leroy Fer (Norwich), Jonathan De Guzman (Swansea), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven)
Forwards: Memphis Depay (PSV), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Dirk Kuijt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)
9/32 Group C: Colombia
Colombia's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Nice), Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali), Camilo Vargas (Santa Fe)
Defenders: Mario Yepes (Atalanta), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Carlos Valdes (San Lorenzo), Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Camilo Zuniga (Napoli), Pablo Armero (West Ham)
Midfielders: Carlos Sanchez (Elche), Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan), Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Aldo Leao Ramirez (Morelia), Juan Fernando Quintero (Porto), Víctor Ibarbo (Cagliari), James Rodriguez (Monaco), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Fiorentina), Alexander Mejia (Atletico Nacional)
Forwards: Jackson Martinez (Porto), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Adrian Ramos (Hertha Berlin), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate)
Greece's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis (Granada), Panagiotis Glykos (PAOK), Stefanos Kapino (Panathinaikos)
Defenders: Kostas Manolas, Jose Holebas (both Olympiakos), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Vangelis Moras (Verona), Giorgos Tzavellas (PAOK), Loukas Vyntra (Levante), Vasilis Torosidis (Roma)
Midfielders: Alexandros Tziolis (Kayserispor), Andreas Samaris, Giannis Maniatis (both Olympiakos), Kostas Katsouranis (PAOK), Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Torino), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Genoa), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Panagiotis Kone (both Bologna)
Forwards: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK), Giorgos Samaras (Celtic), Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham), Fanis Gekas (Konyaspor)
11/32 Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport), Sayouba Mande (Stabaek)
Defenders: Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro (Toulouse), Serge Aurier (Toulouse), Souleyman Bamba (Trabzonspor), Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart), Viera Diarrassouba (Caykur Rizespor), Constant Djakpa (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor)
Midfielders: Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel), Ismael Diomande (St Etienne), Max Gradel (St Etienne), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Didier Ya Konan (Hannover 96)
Forwards: Mathis Bolly (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Wilfried Bony (Swansea City), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Gervinho (AS Roma), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Giovanni Sio (Basel)
Japan's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo)
Defenders: Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata), Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart)
Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Makoto Hasebe (Nuremberg), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
Forwards: Keisuke Honda (AC Milan), Yoshito Okubo (Kawasaki Frontale), Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Nuremberg), Yoichiro Kakitani (Cerezo Osaka), Manabu Saito (Yokohama F Marinos), Yuya Osako (1860 Munich)
13/32 Group D: Uruguay
Uruguay's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama), Rodrigo Munoz (Libertad)
Defenders: Maximiliano Pereira (Benfica), Diego Lugano (West Bromwich Albion), Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez (both Atletico Madrid), Sebastian Coates (Liverpool), Martin Caceres (Juventus), Jorge Fucile (Porto)
Midfielders: Alvaro Gonzalez (Lazio), Alvaro Pereira (Sao Paulo), Walter Gargano (Parma), Egidio Arevalo Rios (Morelia), Diego Perez (Bologna), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton), Nicolas Lodeiro (Botafogo)
Forwards: Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Edinson Cavani (Paris St-Germain), Abel Hernandez (Palermo), Diego Forlan (Cerezo Osaka), Christian Stuani (Espanyol)
14/32 Costa Rica
Costa Rica's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Levante), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense) Daniel Cambronero (Herediano)
Defenders: Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), Michael Umana (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Bruges), Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew), Heiner Mora (Saprissa), Junior Diaz (Mainz 05), Christian Gamboa (Rosenborg), Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls)
Midfielders: Celso Borges (AIK), Christian Bolanos (Copenhagen), Esteban Granados (Herediano), Michael Barrantes (Aalesund), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Diego Calvo (Valerenga), Jose Miguel Cubero (Herediano)
Forwards: Bryan Ruiz (PSV Eindhoven, on loan from Fulham), Joel Campbell (Olympiakos, on loan from Arsenal), Randall Brenes (Cartagines), Marco Urena (FC Kuban Krasnodar)
Italy's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain)
Defenders: Ignazio Abate (Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), Gabriel Paletta (Parma)
Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
England's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Celtic), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United)
17/32 Group E: France
France's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mickaël Landreau (Bastia)
Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Lucas Digne (PSG) Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (PSG), Clément Grenier (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Loïc Rémy (Newcastle), Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich)
Honduras' 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Noel Valladares (Olimpia), Donis Escober (Olimpia), Luis Lopez (Real Espana)
Defenders: Brayan Beckeles (Olimpia), Arnold Peralta (Rangers), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic), Juan Carlos Garcia (Wigan), Maynor Figueroa (Hull), Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes), Osman Chavez (Qingdao Jonoon), Juan Pablo Montes (Motagua)
Midfielders: Luis Garrido (Olimpia), Roger Espinoza (Wigan), Jorge Claros (Motagua), Wilson Palacios (Stoke), Oscar Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo), Andy Najar (Anderlecht), Mario Martinez (Real Espana), Marvin Chavez (Colorado Rapids)
Forwards: Jerry Bengtson (New England Revolution), Jerry Palacios (Alajuelense), Carlo Costly (Real Espana), Rony Martinez (Real Sociedad)
Ecuador's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Alexander Dominguez (Liga de Quito), Maximo Banguera (Barcelona, Ecuador), Adrian Bone (El Nacional)
Defenders: Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca), Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Flamengo), Jorge Guagua (Emelec), Juan Carlos Paredes (Barcelona, Ecuador
Midfielders: Segundo Castillo (Al Hilal), Carlos Gruezo (Stuttgart), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem), Fidel Martinez (Tijuana), Edison Mendez (Santa Fe), Christian Noboa (Dinamo Moscow), Luis Saritama (Barcelona, Ecuador), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
Forwards: Jaime Ayovi (Tijuana), Felipe Caicedo (Al-Jazira), Jefferson Montero (Morelia), Joao Rojas (Cruz Azul), Enner Valencia (Pachuca), Michael Arroyo (Atlante)
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Switzerland's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg), Roman Buerki (Grasshopper), Yann Sommer (Basel)
Defenders: Johan Djourou (Hamburg), Michael Lang (Grasshopper), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Fabian Schaer (Basel), Philippe Senderos (Valencia), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys), Reto Ziegler (Sassuolo)
Midfielders: Tranquillo Barnetta (Eintracht Frankfurt), Valon Behrami (Napoli), Blerim Dzemaili (Napoli), Gelson Fernandes (Freiburg), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich), Valentin Stocker (Basel)
Forwards: Josip Drmic (Nuremberg), Mario Gavranovic (Zurich), Admir Mehmedi (Freiburg), Haris Seferovic (Real Sociedad), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach)
21/32 Group F: Argentina
Argentina's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Agustin Orion (Boca Juniors)
Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Jose Basanta (Monterrey)
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell's Old Boys), Enzo Perez (Benfica)
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris St-Germain)
Bosnia-Hercegovina's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Asmir Begovic (Stoke City), Asmir Avdukic (Borac Banja Luka), Jasmin Fejzic (VFR Aalen)
Defenders: Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen), Toni Sunjic (Zorya Lugansk), Sead Kolasinac (Schalke), Ognjen Vranjes (Elazigspor), Ermin Bicakcic (Eintracht Braunschweig), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros), Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg)
Midfielders: Miralem Pjanic (Roma), Izet Hajrovic (Galatasaray), Haris Medunjanin (Gaziantepspor), Senad Lulic (Lazio), Anel Hadzic (Sturm), Tino Susic (Hajduk), Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhour Renhe), Senijad Ibricic (Erciyesspor), Avdija Vrsaljevic (Hajduk)
Forwards: Vedad Ibisevic (VfB Stuttgart), Edin Dzeko (Manchester City), Edin Visca (Istanbul BB)
Iran's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Daniel Davari (Eintracht Braunschweig), Alireza Haghighi (Sporting Covilha, on loan from Rubin Kazan), Rahman Ahmadi (Sepahan)
Defenders: Hossein Mahini (Persepolis), Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps), Pejman Montazeri (Umm Salal), Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis), Amir-Hossein Sadeghi (Esteghlal), Ahmad Alenemeh (Naft), Hashem Beikzadeh (Esteghlal), Mehrdad Pouladi (Persepolis)
Midfielders: Javad Nekounam (Kuwait SC), Andranik Teymourian (Esteghlal), Reza Haghighi (Persepolis), Ghasem Haddadifar (Zob Ahan), Bakhtiar Rahmani (Foolad), Ehsan Hajsafi (Sepahan)
Forwards: Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham), Masoud Shojaei (Las Palmas), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (NEC Nijmegen), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Charlton), Karim Ansarifard (Tractor Saz, on loan from Persepolis), Khosro Heydari (Esteghlal)
Nigeria's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be'er Sheva), Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United)
Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (Monaco), Efe Ambrose (Celtic), Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough), Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod), Joseph Yobo (Norwich, on loan from Fenerbahce), Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars)
Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea), Ramon Azeez (Almeria), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio), Reuben Gabriel (Waasland-Beveren), Michael Babatunde (Volyn Lutsk)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Shola Ameobi (Newcastle), Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce), Michael Uchebo (Cercle Brugge), Peter Odemwingie (Stoke), Victor Moses (Liverpool, on loan from Chelsea), Uche Nwofor (Heerenveen)
25/32 Group G: Germany
Germany's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Julian Draxler (Schalke), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Christoph Kramer (Borussia Monchengladbach), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal)
Ghana's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Fatau Dauda (Orlando Pirates), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset), Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars)
Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (Platanias), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege), Harrison Afful (Esperance), John Boye (Rennes), Jonathan Mensah (Evian), Rashid Sumalia (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Midfielders: Michael Essien (AC Milan), Sulley Muntari (AC Milan), Rabiu Mohammed (Kuban Krasnodar), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese), Afriyie Acquah (Parma), Christian Atsu (Vitesse), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough), Andre Ayew (Marseille), Mubarak Wakaso (Rubin Kazan)
Forwards: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke 04), Abdul Majeed Waris (Valenciennes), Jordan Ayew (Sochaux)
Portugal's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Braga), Rui Patricio (Sporting)
Defenders: Andre Almeida (Benfica), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Fabio Coentreo (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Valencia), Neto (Zenit), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia)
Midfielders: Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Miguel Veloso (Dinamo Kiev), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Ruben Amorim (Benfica), William Carvalho (Sporting)
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eder (SC Braga), Helder Postiga (Lazio), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Nani (Manchester United), Rafa (Braga), Varela (FC Porto), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg)
USA's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
29/32 Group H: Belgium
Belgium's 24-man squad yet to be cut down to the required 23 plus 6 standby players.
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid, on loan from Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Koen Casteels (Hoffenheim), Sammy Bossut (Zulte Waregem)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid), Laurent Ciman (Standard Liege), Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit St Petersburg), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Daniel van Buyten (Bayern Munich), Anthony Vanden Borre (Anderlecht), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Midfielders: Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele (both Tottenham), Steven Defour (Porto), Kevin de Bruyne (Wolfsburg), Marouane Fellaini, Adnan Januzaj (both Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Divock Origi (Lille), Axel Witsel (Zenit St Petersburg)
Forwards: Romelu Lukaku (Everton, on loan from Chelsea), Dries Mertens (Napoli)
Standby: Sebastien Pocognoli (Hannover), Radia Nainggolan (Roma), Thorgan Hazard (Zulte Waregem, on loan from Chelsea), Guillaume Gillet (Anderlecht), Michy Batshuayi, Jelle Van Damme (both Standard Liege)
Algeria's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Rais Mbolhi (CSKA Sofia), Cedric Si Mohamed (CS Constantine), Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche (USM Alger)
Defenders: Essaid Belkalem (Watford, on loan from Granada), Madjid Bougherra (Lekhwya Club), Liassine Cadamuro (Mallorca), Faouzi Ghoualm (Napoli), Rafik Halliche (Academica Coimbra), Aissa Mandi (Stade Reims), Carl Medjani (Valenciennes), Djamel Mesbah (Livorno), Mehdi Mostefa (AC Ajaccio)
Midfielders: Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham), Yasine Brahimi (Granada), Medhi Lacen (Getafe), Saphir Taider (Inter Milan), Hassan Yebda (Udinese)
Forwards: Abdelmoumene Djabou (Club Africain), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia), Nabil Ghilas (Porto), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Hilal Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb)
Russia's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Lodygin (Zenit St Petersburg), Sergey Ryzhikov (Rubin Kazan)
Defenders: Vasili Berezutskiy (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Andrey Eshchenko (Anzhi Makhachkala), Sergey Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Alexey Kozlov (Dynamo Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov (Terek Grozny), Georgi Schennikov (CSKA Moscow)
Midfielders: Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Igor Denisov (Dynamo Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Zhirkov (Dynamo Moscow), Alexey Ionov (Dynamo Moscow), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Victor Faizulin (Zenit St Petersburg), Oleg Shatov (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (Krasnodar)
Forwards: Maxim Kanunnikov (Amkar Perm), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow)
32/32 South Korea
South Korea's 23-man squad.
Goalkeepers: Jung Sung-ryeong (Suwon Bluewings), Kim Seung-gyu (Ulsan Horang-i), Lee Bum-young (Busan I'Park)
Defenders: Yun Suk-young (QPR), Kim Young-kwon (Guangzhou Evergrande), Hwang Seok-ho (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Hong Jeong-ho (Augsburg), Kwak Tae-hwi (Al Hilal), Lee Yong (Ulsan Horang-i), Kim Chang-soo (Kashiwa Reysol), Park Joo-ho (Mainz)
Midfielders: Ki Seung-yueng (Sunderland, on loan from Swansea), Ha Dae-sung (Beijing Guoan), Han Kook-young (Kashiwa Reysol), Park Jung-woo (Guangzhou R&F), Son Heung-min (Bayer Leverkusen), Kim Bo-kyung (Cardiff City), Lee Chung-yong (Bolton Wanderers), Ji Dong-won (Augsburg)
Forwards: Koo Ja-cheol (Mainz), Lee Keun-ho (Sangju Sangmu), Park Chu-young (Arsenal), Kim Shin-wook (Ulsan Horang-i)
Fred’s road to the World Cup has not been easy. He was born in a small town in the countryside of the state of Minas Gerais; his mother died of a heart attack when he was just seven years old. “I don’t remember her very well,” he told Globo, “but I have an image of her taking me to watch my dad play football. She loved the game.”
He eventually signed for America from the city of Belo Horizonte, where England will play their final and potentially decisive group game against Costa Rica on 24 June. The club, interestingly, plays at the Independencia Stadium, where England were humiliated by the United States in the 1950 World Cup.
After starring for America’s city rivals Cruzeiro he moved on to Lyons in France, where he won three Ligue 1 titles and played regularly in the Champions League. His good form earned him a call-up to the Brazil squad for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, alongside the likes of Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano and Ronaldo. “I was a 22-year-old kid back then. I didn’t have the same responsibility I have today,” he remembers. “The squad was full of superstars. I was just a back-up, really.” But he still managed a goal after coming on as a substitute against Australia.
Eventually, however, his club form dipped, and in 2009, frustrated with life in France and his lack of first-team opportunities, he left Lyons after four years and returned to Brazil. “It was a personal choice to come back home,” he says. “I also had offers from Italy and England.”
Today he is unconcerned about making the leap from Brazilian club football to the World Cup. “Of course, there’s a big difference between playing in Brazilian domestic football and playing in the World Cup. But there’s a big difference between playing in European football and playing in the World Cup, too,” he argues. “The World Cup is completely different from any other competition.”
Despite viewing Brazil as World Cup favourites, Fred knows the hosts will face stiff competition. “Germany and Spain are probably a little ahead of the pack, but you can’t rule out any of the teams that have won the World Cup before, such as Argentina, Holland, France, Italy or Uruguay,” he says, curiously missing England off his list of former champions. “And there are a few dark horses too, like Portugal and Belgium. We have to watch out for nasty surprises.”
Remembering how during the Confederations Cup the Brazilian fans captured the patriotic spirit of the mass political protests that raged in the streets outside the stadiums, Fred believes that playing at home will give them a huge advantage this summer. “Fifa say only the first verse of the national anthem should be played before the games. But the fans continued singing long after the music stopped, and it really inspired the team,” he says of last year. “We started every game at 100mph and steamrollered the opposition. Brazilians live and breathe football, and that will make a huge difference.”
At the moment here in Brazil it is difficult to avoid the connection between the World Cup – and the country’s chaotic preparations for the event – and the turbulent political climate.
Fred believes firmly in Brazilians’ right to protest. “Constructive criticism is a good thing,” he says. “I condemn all that’s wrong with my country. I want a better, safer Brazil, free of corruption and with better public health, education and transport. I hope the World Cup can be a turning point. Things have improved a lot, but there’s a long way to go until we have the kind of country that Brazilians deserve.”
The 30-year-old striker, who the Spanish press recently linked with a move to Barcelona, is coy on the subject of a return to European football. “Of course, it’s a possibility. But for the moment I’m totally focused on the World Cup, and giving the Brazilian people their sixth title.”
Barring any last-minute surprises or injuries, the Brazil team to take the field against Croatia in the opening game of the World Cup is likely to be as follows:
Julio Cesar (Toronto FC)
The perfect example of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s philosophy of relying on players he knows and trusts. The fact that Cesar plays in the MLS troubles the Brazil coach not a jot.
Marcelo (Real Madrid)
The left-back is at the top of his game at the moment, and has carried his excellent club form over into pre-World Cup training.
Dani Alves (Barcelona)
One of only six members of an inexperienced squad to have played in a World Cup previously.
David Luiz (PSG)
Scolari sees none of the defensive liabilities that so irritated Jose Mourinho, even saying he was pleased when Luiz was on the bench at Chelsea, as it meant he’d be “fresher for the World Cup”.
Thiago Silva (PSG)
Brazil’s captain – a quiet, elegant leader at the back, considered by many to be one of the world’s best central defenders.
Another player whose sputtering club form has not caused Scolari’s faith to waver. The manager loves his ability to get forward and score key goals, such as the winner in the Confederations Cup semi-final against Uruguay last year.
Luis Gustavo (Wolfsburg)
The team’s most understated player. An effective, tidy defensive midfielder.
In a side that lacks a truly creative midfield schemer, Brazil instead rely on Oscar’s neat touch and intelligence to be the hub of the team’s passing game.
The criticism Neymar receives in Europe baffles Brazilians, with Scolari even going so far as to suggest a foreign media conspiracy against his players. Can hardly be blamed for the odd inconsistent spell after his huge step up to Barcelona, and remains the magician in Brazil’s ranks. The country’s success or failure rests largely on his slender shoulders.
Brazilians are divided in their opinions of the chunky attacking midfielder, but he has never let Scolari down. May come under pressure from youngster Bernard or Chelsea’s Willian during the tournament.
Plays a vital role in Brazil’s tactical system, holding up the ball with his back to goal and pouncing on whatever chances come his way.Reuse content