Through late April, SI.com will profile two World Cup teams a week. We continue with England. Click here for the full archive.
FIFA world ranking: No. 10.
How they qualified for Germany: Won UEFA Group 6 with an 8-1-1 record.
Previous World Cups and finishes: 11 appearances (1950, '54, '58, '62, '66, '70, '82, '86, '90, '98, 2002). Champions in '66, fourth place in '90, quarterfinals in '54, '62, '70, '86, '02.
Manager: Sven-Göran Eriksson, sixth and final year with team.
There's a reason England's hopes are being pinned on its attack: Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen are among the world's best strikers. The question is if they'll play. Rooney is recovering from a broken foot, and it's debatable if he'll be back at all. England isn't as dangerous without his strength, determination and ability to create goals from nothing -- especially from long range. Owen, however, looks as if he will be back from a broken foot of his own, and he's the perfect complement to Rooney: positioning, speed and lethal finishing from within the box. Midfielders Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard both boast high goal-scoring records as well as the ability to provide defense-splitting passes, while the crossing talents of captain David Beckham from the right wing are second to none.
Opposing defenders will also have to cope with England's attack-minded left flank, where Ashley Cole's overlapping runs and crosses add to the threat posed by Joe Cole's trickery.
What to watch for
England's starting XI is made up of truly world-class players which, on paper, looks like a potential tournament winner. However, the likelihood is that Rooney, the team's talisman and the player many had predicted to be the star of the World Cup, won't play. Eriksson included him on the roster anyways, hopeful that the 20-year-old may be recovered enough to help England in the latter stages of the tournament, should it advance that far.
With no obvious replacement for Rooney, England may be left somewhat toothless up front. But could being forced into a 4-5-1 formation be a blessing in disguise? In the preferred 4-4-2, the center-midfield partnership of Gerrard and Lampard brings together the two best attack-minded box-to-box midfielders in the English Premier League. But defensively, this sometimes leaves England exposed with neither Joe Cole nor Beckham likely to provide sufficient cover.
Bringing Michael Carrick into the lineup as a holding midfielder will allow Lampard and Gerrard to revert to the attacking style of play they employ in the EPL. Meanwhile, the mercurial Cole, shed of his defensive responsibilities, will be given free rein to exploit his creative genius.
In addition to his starters, Eriksson can call on three players from the bench with the strengths to create or score a late goal: the aerial threat of 6-foot-7 Peter Crouch, the pace and skill of the quick-footed Aaron Lennon and the unproven yet potentially deadly finishing of 17-year-old Theo Walcott.
England's relative fitness and stamina is difficult to discern. If Rooney returns, its chances are that much better. Will the players benefit from being accustomed to the up-tempo EPL? Or will the high number of games in the English domestic season take its toll?
Group: B (Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden).
Key match in group stage: June 20 vs. Sweden. England is expected to win all three of its group games, but historians will point out that it hasn't beaten the Swedes since 1966. The result of this match will likely decide whether England meets host Germany in the second round or in the semifinal. In the more likely latter scenario, England will get a chance to avenge its semifinal defeats in the '90 World Cup and at Euro '96.