World Cup 2014: Power Ranking the Top 15 Nations Targeting Glory
Only two more years remain before world football returns to its showpiece event. The 2014 World Cup will, hopefully, feature the best talent the game has to offer.
While it is possible that things may change for various nations by the time 2014 comes, it isn't too early to rank the best ones.
This list takes a look at some of the top nations who we expect to be favourites for the World Cup trophy. We'll take FIFA's current world rankings into account as well as the teams' talent and recent history.
Let's take a look at the top 15 nations targeting glory for the 2014 World Cup.
Current FIFA Ranking: 31
Colombia has a solid crop of players right now. They disappointed in the 2011 Copa America but should qualify for the World Cup and present a solid showing.
Radamel Falcao, Fredy Guarin and Christian Zapata headline each section of the field for the team but there are other players such as Pablo Armero and Hugo Rodallega as well.
Provided they get to the tournament, playing on South American soil may be a bonus for the team.
Current FIFA Ranking: 23
Ghana is the most promising African team at the moment. They have a great mix of experience and talent. The team's showing at the 2010 World Cup was a great example of things to come from this side.
If Kevin-Prince Boateng and Asamoah Gyan can be coaxed out of their respective breaks from the national team it will make the team even stronger.
Current FIFA Ranking: 22
Mexico re-asserted its dominance in CONCACAF with a solid Gold Cup tournament. The team continues to add talent to its ranks and already has a core crop of players with World Cup experience.
If the team can capably replace the likes of Rafa Marquez and Gerardo Torrado, if they do not play or are unavailable for any reason, they will be a very solid team come 2014.
Current FIFA Ranking: 16
Laurent Blanc doesn't expect much of his side in the Euro 2012 tournament. That seems a bit harsh but his view certainly shouldn't be the same in 2014 whether he is the coach or not.
France could surprise some at Euro 2012 this summer and will be in a very good position to build on that in 2014. They will have a side with more youth than experience, but that youth will come in the form of Mamadou Sakho, Marvin Martin, Jeremy Menez and others.
With Samir Nasri and Hugo Lloris as two of the more experienced players, France will have a good mix and will be looking to atone for the 2010 World Cup debacle.
Current FIFA Ranking: 10
Croatia has one of the best playmakers in the world and is a team with some great experience. They missed out on the 2010 World Cup but should not repeat that feat for 2014.
Slaven Bilic has done a really great job with this team and as long as the core players like Luka Modric, Darijo Srna and Vedran Corluka remain, they will always be a strong opponent.
They were fun to watch in Euro 2008 and will be again in 2012. They have the quality be around for the World Cup as well.
Current FIFA Ranking: 14
Chile will see a lot of its top contributors take part in the 2014 World Cup. Alexis Sanchez leads the list but Gary Medel, Mauricio Isla and Matias Fernandez are not to be forgotten.
The South American side impressed in qualification and in the actual 2010 World Cup, and may be set for a repeat performance or better on South American soil.
Current FIFA Ranking: 9
Italy will certainly be darkhorses when the 2014 World Cup rolls around. Mario Balotelli should hopefully be leading the line for Italy, and Daniele De Rossi and Giorgio Chiellini will be two of the more experienced contributors.
Euro 2012 will show just how far this new-look Italy team has to go. If things work out well this summer and players like Mario Balotelli progress as expected, Italy will be really strong.
Current FIFA Ranking: 6
England has the quality in the team to get through Euro 2012 with a very good showing. In two years time there will be a lot of new blood in the squad, but only because there could be some experienced players set to miss out on the tournament.
Players like Phil Jones, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck are the future of the team, but they may not be ready to help the team win the World Cup. England will still be one of the top teams but they may be more darkhorses than favourites in 2014.
Current FIFA Ranking: 7
Portugal will have a lot of experience heading into the 2014 World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo will be leading the line, and he will have players like Joao Moutinho and his Real Madrid teammate Pepe behind him.
That experience will go a long way and make them a dangerous opponent for any team.
Current FIFA Ranking: 8
Argentina has the best player in the world and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. One has to figure that, like their major rivals Brazil, they will have everything sorted by 2014.
Argentinians would surely love to lift the World Cup on the home soil of their rivals and 2014 could provide that time.
Lionel Messi isn't the only thing the team has to offer as there is abundance of talent in midfield and attack. If the coaching staff, whoever that may be, can find the right people in defense, Argentina may finally live up to its potential.
Current FIFA Ranking: 4
Uruguay is the strongest side in South America right now as their performances in the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 Copa America showed.
This team, like many of the other top contenders, will not be missing too many of its current squad. Diego Forlan and Diego Lugano stand out as players who will most likely miss the tournament, but there is just too much talent coming through the ranks.
Nicolas Lodeiro, Abel Hernandez and Sebastian Coates should become major parts of the team by the time the World Cup comes around and Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Luis Pereira will be there to lead.
Current FIFA Ranking: 2
The Netherlands is currently ranked second in the world and rightly so. The core group of players have been together for awhile and any new additions will only strengthen the team.
They have the players necessary to be considered major contenders and favourites, but it is very possible they will not be as strong as they were in 2010 and as expected in the upcoming Euro 2012 tournament.
Current FIFA Ranking: 5
Brazil's home advantage will be key here. Other than the 2006 World Cup, not much was expected from the various hosts of the World Cup in the 21st century.
Germany was still somewhat of a darkhorse in 2006 but ended up third. Brazil has the talent to win the whole thing. The recent Copa America showed that there is still work to be done for the team to reach its full potential.
This team will have strength in every position and it will just be a matter of finding the perfect mix.
Current FIFA Ranking: 3
Germany has reached the semifinal in the last two World Cups and lost to the eventual winners both times. They will be major contenders in 2014.
The squad in South Africa was pretty young and you can expect that all the major players will return for their second World Cup tournament.
The team continued its great form in Euro 2012 qualification and could very well end up winners of that upcoming tournament as well.
Current FIFA Ranking: 1
Spain seems to have no shortage of talent coming through the ranks and with a variety of players appearing in Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and now Euro 2012, they will have tons of experience as well.
Players like Carles Puyol, Xabi Alonso and David Villa may be missing, but then you just replace them with Alvaro Dominquez, Javi Martinez and Iker Muniain.
Vicente Del Bosque should still be in charge and even with the possibility of a coaching change, the pool of Spanish talent makes them very strong contenders.