With the World Cup in Brazil next summer being one of the most hotly anticipated for years, 21 of the 32 teams to play there have already been decided after a spate of qualifying matches in recent days.
As well as the hosts Brazil, other notable notions to have booked their tickets to Brazil 2014 include Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherland and England from Europe, Argentina, Colombia and Chile from South America, Iran, Japan and South Korea from Asia and Costa Rica and United States from North and Central America. With Ghana looking almost certain to join them after a 6-1 thrashing of Egypt in the first leg of their play-off, and more teams from Africa and around the world yet to confirm qualification, it promises to be a footballing festival like no other… with a samba party vibe to boot!
As is usually the case the winner of the World Cup will almost certainly come from either Europe or South America, with the hosts Brazil being favourites with the bookmakers at the time of writing. The five-time winners of the world’s greatest football competition certainly have the pedigree, and with home support behind them they will certainly take some stopping. But will the pressure of the expectant mob be too much for them? Perhaps.
Should they falter then Germany – as always – look as likely as any to take up the mantle of favourites. They won nine and drew one of their qualifying matches, and Joachim Low’s side have a fine balance of experience and youth, pace and power. They haven’t won the tournament since 1990 (preceded by triumphs in 1974 and 1954), and we feel they could be due another in Brazil.
Current holders Spain were not flawless in qualification, with six wins and two draws from their eight matches, but they always raise their game at the major tournaments and shouldn’t be discounted. While Belgium also look like possible contenders for the crown after winning eight and drawing two in qualification, and with a highly talented squad they could be everyone’s favourite outsiders here. While Argentina are also in with a decent shout, we actually think the winner will be a European side this time around. And overall, our money at this stage is on Germany: fast, efficient, strong… and definitely overdue a World Cup victory.