Next summer all eyes will be on the biggest and the most extravagant sporting event in the entire world: the 2014 World Cup.
And hosting it will be the football-crazy country of Brazil. It will be a mouthwatering prospect for the players. Which better country to showcase your skills than Brazil - and what better event than the World Cup?
As in any event, there are bound to be some favourites. Spain with their irresistible midfield, Germany with their potent young talent in all departments, Argentina with their inexhaustible and wide range of attacking prowess, and Brazil with the home support, are the usual suspects.
But as in any event, there are some dark horses who are capable of beating any opponent on their day. And if these dangerous sides can carry on with some momentum, then they can become some serious contenders.
Here are some of the dark horses for the 2014 World Cup:
After their abysmal Euro 2012 performance, they aren’t being given a lot of chance. One of the reasons for their early group stage exit was their lack of team spirit, with too many ego clashes.
However, they can be dangerous if they can get their act together. With Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie in scintillating form and young talents like Kevin Strootman emerging, the future is bright. Let’s see if the Oranje can rediscover their form and become a formidable opponent as they have the potential to be.
Not many people are giving France a chance to repeat what they did in 1998. Their previous exploits at the 2010 World Cup is one of the reasons. Complete chaos and disharmony caused them to crash out in the group stages.
However, should they get their mojo back, France may cause some upsets. Franck Ribery won lots of plaudits for his amazing displays this season and if he can repeat those performances, then he along with Karim Benzema, Bacary Sagna, Yohan Cabaye and Hugo Lloris would be the men to watch out for.
With their Iberian neighbours hogging most of the limelight, Portugal will want to repeat their heroic run in to the Euro 2012 semi-finals. Cristiano Ronaldo arguably single-handedly guided his national team to that stage.
He would be the mega star to watch out for, and if he can get some support defensively in the form of his Madrid team-mates - Pepe and Fabio Coentrao, and support down the wings from the mercurial Nani- then Portugal may have a great chance.
This is a team blessed with prolific strikers. Any team with Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan is bound to have a great chance against any team.
More so, if the team is represented in the midfield by Gaston Ramirez and Cristian Rodriguez, and with it being a South American country, home support will come in handy as well.
Belgium is a team which has absolute magnificent potential in the form of their young and superbly talented squad.
Having the best young keeper in the form of Thibaut Courtios, a defensive line with Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelan, a midfield comprising of Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and Alex Witsel, and a striking combination of Romelu Lukaku and Cristian Benteke, Belgium will be the team to watch out for in Brazil.
Expect some whirlwind performances from this exciting team.
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