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The contenders: Brazil

Brazil' soccer striker Kaka gives the thumb up

Brazil' soccer striker Kaka gives the thumb up as arrives with teammates at Dars El Salam airport for friendly match against Tanzania. (June 6, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

We've reached the finale of our countdown of FIFA's top-ranked teams, which began with No. 9 France (remember No. 10 Croatia didn't qualify) last week.

If you want to read back on all the team profiles ... 9) France | 8) England | 7) Argentina | 6) Germany | 5) Italy | 4) Netherlands | 3) Portugal | 2) Spain

Now introducing the top-ranked team in the world, and arguably, the most soccer-crazy nation on our sphere ...


Group: G - North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal

World Cup history: 5 titles (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002); They're the kings, having played in every World Cup since it's inception in 1930. Brazil will be trying to make its fourth final in five tournaments.

5 key players: Kaka (Real Madrid), Robinho (Santos), Julio Cesar (Inter Milan), Maicon (Inter Milan), Luis Fabiano (Sevilla)

>> Read about Brazil's stars and other players to watch at the 2010 World Cup

Coach: Dunga

Outlook: When you think about Brazilian soccer and the "beautiful game," you think defense and tactical efficiency, right? Not a chance. At this year's World Cup, however, the game has changed under head coach Dunga, a hard-nosed defensive specialist.

Though many have criticized this 23-man squad as being a little drab compared to year's past, its built with a sturdy defense, athleticism and efficiency on the attack. Julio Cesar guards the goal, and if he's fully recovered from back problems, is one of the world's best. In front of him, he's got his Inter Milan teammates, Lucio and Maicon, to lead a deep pack of world-class defenders.

Kaka, FIFA's player of the year in 2007, directs the midfield. Though he struggled for Real Madrid this year, he may have a chip on his shoulder with everyone debating whether Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi is the world's best. Kaka may not be at the level of the other three at the moment, but at 28, he's still very much in his prime.

On the attack, Luis Fabiano is the brawn, while Robinho is the flair and the flash that we're used to seeing in those bright yellow uniforms. Don't forget about Grafite, who was a surprise addition at 31, but could be a breakout star. 

Under Dunga's leadership, Brazil has been nothing but successful and its ranking is deserved. While Spain may have the better overall talent, this team still has the potential to bring home its sixth trophy.

Prediction: The Brazilians would pick up an easy nine in any other group. In the Group of Death? I'll give them seven (maybe nine).

Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Inter Milan), Doni (AS Roma), Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham Hotspur)

Defenders: Maicon (Inter Milan), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Lucio (Inter Milan), Juan (Roma), Luisao (Roma), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Gilberto (Cruzeiro), Michel Bastos (Lyon)

Midfielders: Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos), Felipe Melo (Juventus), Josue (Wolfsburg), Elano (Galatasaray), Ramires (Benfica), Kleberson (Flamengo), Kaka (Real Madrid), Julio Baptista (Roma)

Forwards: Robinho (Santos), Nilmar (Villarreal), Luis Fabiano (Sevilla), Grafite (Wolfsburg).

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