As the World Cup picture begins to take shape, it becomes a lot easier to see which teams are the ones to watch in the biggest stage in international soccer competition. The audience world-wide dwarf the audiences for the Super Bowl, the Major League Baseball World Series and the NBA Finals combined; even with those audiences only 32 teams will make it to the World Cup and here are the ones that you need to tune in to watch.
Spain is the defending champion and ranked number one by FIFA and with good reason. They have a team that may not have a Messi or a Ronaldo, but they are a team that others fear. Some of the players for Spain now include Xavi, Iniesta, Mata, Casillas, Torres, Villa and others. It is no wonder that they are the favorites to win every game, but the question in people’s minds is how they will get to the World Cup. A healthy team is almost unbeatable. The one thing to remember however is that as good as the Spanish team is never has a European team won a World Cup played in the Americas.
A lot of people are saying that Brazil is not what it once was and to a certain degree they are right. Brazil is down to number 9 in the world rankings as of July 2013, but if you think that will mean much by the world cup, then you have another thing coming. Brazil is full of experienced and young superstars and they just beat Spain in the Confederations Cup Final. The reason that is important is that both teams went with their first squad to it and the Confederations Cup was held in Brazil, just like the World Cup 2014 will be.
Another reason the home team will be one of the better ones to watch is that their style of play is one of the most entertaining ones. European soccer is known as effective and strong, but Brazilian play is almost like a dance on the field. This will also be the biggest international event for Neymar and the entire country’s hopes are on his shoulders. Other players to watch include Luiz Gustavo, Hulk, Filipe Luis, Marcelo and Daniel Alves.
Colombia is not a team with a lot of history in World Cup matches. They have never won it all; in fact they have not even qualified since 1998. That bad history could disappear next year as they have what experts call their best team in the country’s history. As of July of 2013 the country is ranked number 3 in the world ahead of the continent’s powerhouses Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. They have a generation of players with international experience and they are not afraid of the big teams.
Some of the players that soccer fans around the world will recognize are Mario Yepes, Pablo Armero, Fredy Guarin, Abel Aguilar, James Rodriguez, Camilo Zuñiga, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, Carlos Bacca and Luis Muriel and of course Radamel Falcao. There is no real weakness in the team and the home fans will not have to go that far to cheer for them.
Though the Spanish team number one in the world today, I believe that if a European team is going to win the World Cup in South America, then that will be Germany. The team was mostly young in 2010 and they got really close to the finals. Today they have a lot more experience and Bayern and Borussia Dortmund made the Real Madrid and Barcelona look like amateurs at the Champions League. That was club play, but it shows you that Germany is a force for a reason.
Another reason Germany may take it all is that they are still loaded with young players that will keep them winning for a long time. Think of Gotze, Ozil, Marc-Andre, Hummels, Muller, and Schrrle. A team of youngsters is enough to get the Germans to the semi-finals, but when you add Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Beck and the rest of the squad they just become too dominant.
If you are playing in South America, and you have Lionel Messi in your squad then you automatically become one of the favorites to win it all. Some say that Messi did not do much in the 2010 edition of the World Cup, but I saw it differently. He was not scoring goals, but he was always getting involved in almost every goal opportunity for Argentina. Clearly if the Argentinian team is going to get back to its glory days their captain needs to score, but he will have a great cast around him for 2014.
Messi will have with him players like Mascherano, Angel di Maria, Benega, Biglia, Augusto Fernandez, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín and Cristian Alveréz. The rest of the team has international playing experience so coach Alejandro Savella will have plenty to choose from.
Other Teams With A Chance
You can never count out the Italians in international competition and next year will be no different. They have one of the best keepers in history with Buffon who is now 35 but is still expected to be the keeper next year. Also joining him are very talented veterans like Maggio, Aquilani, Pirlo, De Rossi and bright young star Mario Balotelli.
If you feel surprised by Belgium being on the list, then you have not been paying much attention to soccer lately. Belgium has never won the World Cup and they will probably not be able to beat the top names on the list this time around, but their team is young and extremely talented; they are so talented that I would not be surprised if they reach the semi-finals and if they win it all in Russia in 2018. Some of the best names in the team are Van Buyten, Vincent Kompany, Vermaelen, Nainggolan, Lukaku and Mirallas.
The Netherlands is the country that has been closer to winning the title without ever doing so. As of 2013 they are number 5 in the world and they were the runner ups on 2010. They could pull a surprise win, though the odds are not in their favor. They still have players that could make a big difference like Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder.