Brazil 2014 is one of the most hotly anticipated World Cup tournaments of all time. The Brazil side are on the resurgence, Spain have conjured their own samba style of play, and we’re currently witnessing a period where the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery are proving to be some of the greatest names ever to have played the beautiful game.
But it won’t just be the usual suspects eyeing up the golden trophy this summer. The likes of Belgium, Colombia and Chile all passed the qualification stages with flying colours and will be seen as dark horses when they arrive on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.
With that in mind, we take a look at the top five teams who could surprise many come July 13th at the Maracana.
To some, the Red Devils are considered genuine contenders rather than underdogs. But for most, it would be a major upset if they got to the final stages of the tournament. However, having navigated the group stages with ease, qualifying with a game to spare, and having hoisted themselves to 11th in the FIFA rankings, the likes of Eden Hazard, Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany should not be underestimated.
The European side will start their tournament in a group that possesses little threat aside from Russia. However, a Second Round tie with the Germans or Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal could prove a little more difficult.
The Chilean side have one of the most exciting attackers in European football in Alexis Sanchez and he’ll no doubt keep plenty of defenders on the back foot in June. La Roja will have to work their way through a difficult group that includes Spain and the Netherlands, but should they get through that, in a climate they are accustomed to, expect them to go far.
Price comparison sites such as http://freebets.com have found a best price 50/1 for Chile to get their hands on the world’s biggest prize and for some, that could be a very tempting offer.
It seems surprising that Uruguay had to work their way through the play-offs to make it to Brazil, but with the likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani in their ranks, they could once again be right in the mix come the latter stages.
The South Americans finished fourth in South Africa in a tournament that made Luis Suarez a household name-and not exactly for the right reasons. His on the line hand-ball in the last minute of extra time in the Quarter-finals saw guided them to an eventual fourth place finish and Suarez will once again be the main focus for Los Charriuas.
The Liverpool forward has knocked in 22 goals in just 16 appearances already this season and shows no sign of slowing down; expect fireworks.
Finishing second in a qualifying group that consisted of Argentina, Uruguay and Chile is no mean feat; and, with Radamel Falcao currently one of the world’s top footballers, it’s no wonder the side are currently 4th in the FIFA rankings.
The team conceded the least goals in the CONMEBOL qualifying and also kept the Netherlands and Belgium out in recent friendlies. They have perhaps one of the friendlier groups in the tournament and should qualify with ease to take on the winner or runner up of a Group D that includes England, Italy and Uruguay.
Fabio Capello has instilled a high level of discipline into his Russian side with the team only conceding 5 goals in qualifying. With the country set to host the next tournament in 2018, the Russians will be hoping to impress beyond the group stages.
Well organised and difficult to break down, this approach has worked well in recent tournaments gone by and could bear fruit once more. Capello’s previous tournament experience will hold the team in good stead, and with him not in control of England this time round, he’s unlikely to witness any self-destructing or shameful penalty displays.