With almost all places in the World Cup taken, and after a 5-0 first leg win for Uruguay, many people are wondering which team will reign victorious over the rest of the world come 2014.
Spain will obviously be one of the favourites, after their win in 2010, but there is a definete possibility of a new team reigning supreme. Here are my top five for the title:
Spain – the reigning champions. Still with the amazing talents of players like Xavi and Andres Iniesta, who scored the World Cup winning goal back in South Africa, they will surely be contenders. However, it may be hard to find new players. Of that victorious 2010 team, six are now in their thirties.
Worryingly for Spain they have not been able to bring in fresh blood. In the last squad, just for two friendlies, Spain had only four players under the age of 25. They have rested players, but in this scenario it may not be a good thing. If you can afford to rest key players, you should definitely give the younger players a chance in (with no disrespect to Equatorial Guinea or South Africa) easy, unimportant friendlies.
Although the World Cup is less than a year away, it shows that maybe Spain’s golden era will soon be running out of time.
Brazil – many times at a World Cup the hosts do very well. This was not the case for South Africa four years ago, but that was a rare occurrence. The Brazil team is one of the best in recent years, headed by the amazing Neymar and including Premier League players like Chelsea stars Oscar, Ramires and David Luiz.
A lot of Brazilians are hopeful of adding another one to their five World Cup titles. The last one was in 2002, and Brazilian football has hit a rough patch between then and now. The South Americans will be hoping Neymar and others like Hulk and Oscar can power their country to victory on home soil.
Germany – If Germany can use their second string side to beat England away, they have a good chance of World Cup success in 2014. Many have praised Joachim Low’s team, and after a 2010 third place finish, the Germans are hungry for success.
Unlike Spain, they have a brilliant youth set up. For the friendly against England, only two of eighteen players were in their thirties. Schalke 04 midfielder Julian Draxler is one of the hottest prospects in world football, chased by the likes of Arsenal.
Germany, with their record of reaching finals and semi-finals over the last few years, are due a win in a major tournament. I think that if they work hard enough at the tournament, they could win it.
The Netherlands – so close last time round, the Netherlands will be hungry for revenge. As we all know, Andreas Iniesta crushed their hopes of winning the World Cup for the first time in their third final.
Good news, Holland fans – the boys in Orange have been THE form team in Europe this year. They are the only European team to have won all their games in 2013, having won seven and drawn five.
Their team is full of world-class players and big names everywhere you look. Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin Van Persie are some of the stars. If they keep up the current form, they could surely be good contenders for winning the World Cup.
Argentina – you can never rule out the country with the world’s best player. Despite not impressing in 2010, Lionel Mess is always the danger man, whether he’s playing for Barcelona or Argentina.
And Messi stormed the qualifiers. In a three-way race between Argentina, Colombia and Chile for top spot in the South American qualifying campaign, Messi and Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain scored 19 goals between them to help Argentina make the difference.
As I mentioned before, with Lionel Messi playing for you any team has the chance to be unstoppable. This is the main reason why I believe Argentina are in the top five teams likely to win the World Cup.
Surprise of the tournament:
Chile – I don’t know if it was just me, but I fell in love with Chile after seeing them win against England. The English team wasn’t full strength, but the Chileans ran rings around them. And from what I have heard, that game wasn’t an isolated incident – the Chileans have consistently played well this year.
They have players like Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez in their ranks, and play beautiful football. I recently read an article on BBC Sport about Chile that said Chile would be many neutrals favourites at the World Cup, and I am inclined to agree with that comment.
I think that if Chile perform to the best of their abilities and avoid a group of death they could quite easily get to the quarter-finals and maybe even the semi-finals.
There are 32 teams competing in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They are:
Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
Australia, Iran, Japan and South Korea.
Belgium, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland and Spain.
North & Central America and Caribbean:
Costa Rica, Honduras, United States and Mexico.
Argentina, Brazil (hosts), Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and very probably Uruguay.