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The FIFA World Cup is quickly approaching, now under 100 days away. With hosts Brazil looking very favourable for a semi-final place, I have looked into some teams who will be up to the challenge in 2014.
Top Four: Brazil
The hosts are looking great in the lead up to June having won their last seven friendlies scoring 25 goals and only conceding two. Confidence is high and momentum is with the talented South Americans.
They will face Croatia in the opening match, and will also meet Mexico and Cameroon who make up the rest of Group A.
On paper it looks relatively simple however the opener may be crucial. If they are to win their group the round of 16 clash looks to be a blockbuster with the runner-up of group two (Spain, Netherlands, Chile or Australia).
Neymar is the man to watch. If he fires during the World Cup, Brazil could produce anything and possibly take out their sixth trophy.
A great team on paper that will be looking to prove their potential on the World stage in Brazil. Having made the quarter-finals the last two times, Sabella’s men will be looking to go at least one or two steps further.
With an easy group consisting of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria, Argentina will set their sights on the round of 16 were they are likely to meet Switzerland or possibly France.
Lionel Messi, much like Neymar, can produce brilliance and solo match winning performances on his day. Look for him to play a crucial role in the Argentines’ attack along with Sergio Aguero.
Ever consistent, they have stumbled in the semi-finals the last two times to take out third in the play-off. Can they overcome this “choking” and make it to the grand final?
Joachim Low’s men only just beat Chile in a friendly on Wednesday in Berlin in a game that they were outplayed in.
Low admitted that they must improve if they are going to challenge for the World Cup title.
They come up against Ghana, USA and Portugal, all teams who are capable of scoring goals and playing exciting football.
It should be a great group this one with plenty of competition. I believe Germany will come through on top and most likely play Russia or Belgium in the round of 16.
Mesut Ozil is the one to watch, Arsenal’s attacking mastermind has recently struggled to put performances together like he was earlier in the season, however if he can pull the strings for Germany they have some quality finishes up front.
The World Champions will be hard to beat once again. They will come into this competition with high hopes of going back-to-back.
The squad currently plays host to some of the most recognisable names in football, including Xavi, Iniesta, Negredo, Pedro, Casillas, Fabregas and Jesus Navas to only mention a few.
Initially in the way of the World Champions, in my opinion, is the group of death.
Spain, Netherlands, Chile and Australia will all be vying for a top two spot. Achieving even a point against Spain will be seen as a victory in the eyes of the other three nations.
Netherlands were runners up last time and will be looking for revenge, Chile have proven over the last few years that they are a quality football nation with a lot to offer on the International stage, and Australia are known for their aggressive nature and never lay down approach in World Cups.
Therefore it will be no walk in the park for the reigning champions.
It’s hard to pick one to watch with so many gifted attacking players. However if Andreas Iniesta plays well look for him to be driving the ball from just outside the box as well as setting up the men up front.
Belgium is full of youth and skill and has well and truly proved that they are a world class outfit during the qualification process. They should get through their group without too much trouble.
Russia will be the team to challenge them for top place which is pretty crucial as Germany will most likely top Group G.
If Belgium manages first then they will be looking to spoil the party for the runner up in Group G (Portugal, USA or Ghana).
They have quality players in the right positions all over the park and can probably take victory from any nation on their day. The question is whether or not they can produce consistent performances for more than three or four games?
Eden Hazard is an absolute world-class player who can score goals and set them up from virtually nothing. He will have to play a crucial role if they are to make the quarter-finals or further.
Colombia is one of six nations competing from South America in this year’s World Cup. They managed to sneak a top eight seed which sees them in a group they should top.
Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan will try to prevent them however some quality showings, much like those in the qualification stage, should see them in the round of 16. If they are to win they will play the runner up of Group D (Italy, England, Uruguay or Costa Rica).
Either way they will have a tough encounter. Like Belgium though they have the potential to defeat these countries.
Radamel Falcoa is their main man. He is currently in recovery after injuring his cruciate ligament last month however he is confident to return for the World Cup. In a recent friendly they were unable to finish off Tunisia which is proof of Falcoa’s influence on the team. He is one of the World’s best strikers and is crucial for Colombia’s push at the Brazil games.
Let the games begin.