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WHO WILL WIN THE WORLD CUP?

Closer to the tournament kick off, once the World Cup fixtures are known and when we have a better idea of team form, squads and other factors, we will publish our detailed World Cup match predictions. In the meantime check our our analysis below of some of the key favourites, and also some teams that might surprise.

ARGENTINA

Argentina

Argentina have to have a good chance of winning the World Cup given they are a South American team and will be well supported too. Technically they are probably better than Brazil when you compare player for player, and with Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero they have two players that could dominate this tournament. Let's not forget, Argentina also have Gonzalo HiguaĆ­n of Napoli and Ezequiel Lavezzi of PSG among other top players.

It is difficult to overlook Argentina as serious contenders for the World Cup given it is being played in South America, and although not in their country, it will be near enough a home tournament for them and they will be very well supported. If Messi and Aguero combine well then they could be the difference when it comes to Argentina playing the other big contenders in the latter stages of the tournament.

GERMANY

Germany

Germany are one of the strongest, if not the strongest team unit in the tournament (a large number of their squad come from Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, and Borussia Dortmund, so they know how to play with each other), although they perhaps do not have the world superstars that Argentina have in Messi and Aguero.

Germany have developed and grown into a very good unit as a team, with few weaknesses. Germany are always excellent in defence (they won 9, drew 1, and conceded only 10 goals in 10 qualifying games) and may be suited to South American style football, defending well against good passing teams and hitting them on the counter-attack with their strong attacking players and midfield play-makers like Mesut Ozil.

If this tournament were being played anywhere else but South America, we would say that Germany would be our tip for the tournament. However we just cannot overlook Argentina and Brazil given home advantage.

BRAZIL

Brazil

Brazil are hot favourites to lift the World Cup, despite technically probably not being the best team in the tournament. With having not had to qualify it is always difficult to judge how strong a team will be in a tournament. However, with home support and a long awaited World Cup tournament in their country the Brazilians will expect. South American conditions will also suit home sides - the heat and playing surface will suit teams that can pass the ball and slowly wear down opponents, which Brazil are infamous for.

With the amount of money going on Brazil to win the World Cup because it is their home tournament, this probably explains why they are hot favourites ahead of Germany and Argentina, but in our opinion Brazil's odds do not reflect how much better they are or their increased probability of winning the tournament.

SURPRISE TEAMS?

BELGIUM

Belgium

Belgium have been the surprise team over the past 4 years, climbing the FIFA rankings and being seeded for this World Cup, meaning they could get a favourable draw and progress far in the tournament, although unless they get a massive stroke of luck they are unlikely to challenge for the trophy.

They qualified very well from their European group with 8 wins, 2 draws and no losses, conceding only 4 goals in 10 games. Although Belgium do not have a big history of tournament wins and victories over the big name sides, their players show that they should be well respected. No other teams will want to draw Belgium given players like Chelsea's Eden Hazard, Man Utd's Marouane Fellaini, Liverpool's excellent goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Bayern Munich's Daniel Van Buyten, Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen, Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen (captain), Everton's Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas and Aston Villa's Christian Benteke. With those players in the team you can see why some people are tipping Belgium to even win it. It would be a surprise in that Belgium have never won a major honour, but not a surprise based on the quality of their players.

COLOMBIA

Colombia

Colombia will prove tough South American opponents for any group stage side, and may cause an upset or two against some of the non-South American sides who may struggle to adapt to the temperatures and the South American style of football. Colombia qualified impressively, finishing in second place behind Argentina, and boasting the best defence of any South American team. Colombia conceded only 13 goals in 16 qualifying games. Not only do they have a good defence, but they can score goals too, and with Monaco's Falcao leading the attack they will be dangerous.

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