Top 5: Candidates to win the World Cup 2014
Who stands the best chance of winning the next World Cup - in Brazil next summer?
As the World Cup 2014 edges ever closer and national teams begin to take shape, the competition gets more unpredictable.
Teams are becoming more mature and developing their skills - working towards their goals, and working out the kinks in formations, tactics and lineups before jetting off the Brazil in the summer of next year.
Spain have won the last three international competitions - two European Championships and one World Cup - but the team that won it in South Africa are aging, will they be able to withstand the heat of the next World Cup?
I would say there are the five national teams that have a great chance of winning the World Cup next year - here are my five...
The Samba boys are the home nation so they have that advantage; they also have a very exciting young team at the moment; the likes of Neymar, Oscar, Marcelo and David Luiz are stars of the present and the future.
All of these are very attack minded players who can create chances and score goals. The only question mark hangs over their defence.
This Belgium team is probably the most exciting in the country's history.
It has great forward thinking players like Eden Hazard, Axel Witsel and Spurs star Mousa Dembele and defensive players like Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellani and Thomas Vermaelen, as well as an up and coming keeper, Thibaut Courtois.
They are a young team at the moment, and experience could count against them, but when the World Cup comes around next summer they will certainly be a good outside bet to make a run deep into the competition.
Even though the majority of the Spanish squad have developed and matured - some would say even peaked - there are a few young players who could continue Spain’s worldwide domination. Isco, Iker Muniain and Juan Mata are three such players.
All three are skillful on the ball and can pick out a pass; they should be able to fit right into the Spanish way of playing without too much adjustment. To repeat their 2010 success would take a monumental effort - but a team as good as Spain is certainly capable.
Argentina has one of the best forward lineups in the world - Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi. Messi and Aguero have good chemistry together - they won the Olympics as a pair in 2008 - so they may be able to lead from the front, since Argentina don’t have such a great back four. This may be the most important World Cup for Messi to prove he is up there as one of the best, he has won four Ballon D’or awards and two Champions League trophies but not this. Winning the next World Cup is something that would make Messi a legend.
Germany have a mix of young and experienced players - a crucial combination for any national team. The veterans like Bastian Schweinsteiger can help developing players like Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus and Mario Gotze to play efficiently. The German team are always a danger in international tournaments, in the European Championships they finished top of the group of death above Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark. Write them off at your peril.
The timing of the World Cup is just as important as the chemistry created in any one team. For example the Netherlands had a great team in 1978 but lost to Argentina in the final, and again in 2010 they were a force but lost to Spain.
The previous Spanish team had players like Raul and Xavi, but failed to win it until 2010.
Ultimately winning the World Cup requires two things - players peaking at the right time and a good understanding within the team. For example, to a large extent the Spanish team all play together or against one another in La Liga, either for Real Madrid or Barcelona.
I think the team that will win the World Cup will be Argentina; their forwards are just a different class to the other teams. If Messi wants to confirm his status as a football genius he must take control and lead them to glory, and I think he'll do just that.
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