Power Ranking the Top 25 2014 World Cup Favorites Based on Recent Qualifiers
With another round of World Cup qualifying games in the books, now is as good a time as any to survey the current state of international football.
Which teams are looking strong on the road to Rio? Who has fallen at the wayside?
This article will seek to rank the top 25 contenders for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil based on pedigree and current form.
You'll find the likes of Spain, Germany and the Netherlands here, as well as Argentina, Egypt and Japan.
How long until next June?
25. South Korea
Recent Result: South Korea 2-1 Qatar
South Korea kick things off in 25th place, having defeated Qatar 2-1 Tuesday.
The Red Devils' crucial win came courtesy of goals from Lee Keun-Ho and Heung-Min Son and keeps them in the hunt for top spot in Group A in Asian qualifying.
Uzbekistan lead the way by a point, but South Korea have a game in hand and are surely a lock to make Brazil 2014.
Recent Result: Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1 Greece
Bosnia-Herzegovina continued to look impressive in their 3-1 win over Greece at the weekend.
Edin Dzeko (2) and Vedad Ibisevic etched their names onto the scoresheet, extending their team's lead at the top of Group G to three points.
Safet Susic's side may not be attracting much attention at present, but they have the talent to worry a few of the world's best.
Recent Results: Honduras 2-2 Mexico, Mexico 0-0 USA
Despite outplaying both Honduras and USA in their last two qualifying games, Mexico could only take two points total.
El Tri currently sit in fourth place through two rounds of the Hex, but should be favourites to be one of the three teams that qualify for Brazil automatically.
Mexico have made the round of 16 in the previous five World Cups and have the pedigree to do the same in 2014.
Recent Results: USA 1-0 Costa Rica, Mexico 0-0 USA
Jurgen Klinsmann's USA side has come in for plenty of criticism for their performances in recent games, but have managed to prove a lot of people wrong over the course of the long weekend.
A 1-0 win over Costa Rica in a snowstorm was backed up by a grinding point in Mexico.
The German still has work to do before Brazil.
Recent Results: Moldova 0-1 Montenegro, Montenegro 1-1 England
Despite being outplayed by England in the first half of Tuesday's World Cup qualifying clash, Montenegro stormed back to take a deserving point.
The result keeps them nicely atop Group H, with the Falcons having beaten Moldova 1-0 thanks to a late Mirko Vucinic strike on Friday.
They are gritty and confrontational and have been picking up results with a threatening consistency in qualifying.
Recent Result: Tunisia 2-1 Sierra Leone
Tunisia are the first of four African teams on this list—the Eagles are well ahead of Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea in Group B.
Nabil Maaloul's side has been perfect through three games and would have to suffer a complete collapse not to make Brazil 2014.
Few are predicting an African presence deep in the World Cup, but glory for the continent is surely not too far away.
Recent Results: Peru 1-0 Chile, Chile 2-0 Uruguay
With players like Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal in their ranks, it would be a shock not to see Chile make Brazil.
They currently sit in the fourth and final spot for automatic qualification from the CONMEBOL group, level on points and goal difference with Venezuela.
A precious 2-0 win over Uruguay on Tuesday gives them hope that better results lie ahead.
Recent Result: Nigeria 1-1 Kenya
Nigeria's triumph in the Africa Cup of Nations in February highlighted just how talented the side's current pool of players is.
The likes of John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi and Victor Moses stand the Super Eagles in fine stead going forward.
They currently sit atop Group F in qualifying, but were disappointed not to beat Kenya at the weekend.
Recent Result: Egypt 2-1 Zimbabwe
Egypt are one of three African teams who have won all three of their World Cup qualifying games to date.
Guinea, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have all fallen victim to the Pharaohs, who are coached by American Bob Bradley.
Though the team boasts few well-known names in the game, Bradley has the team playing disciplined, intelligent football at present.
Recent Result: Jordan 2-1 Japan
Alberto Zaccheroni's side's defeat to Jordan Tuesday should eventually prove a rare blip on an impressive record in qualifying.
Japan remain well ahead of the chasing pack in a Group B also containing the underwhelming Australia.
With Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Yuto Nagatomo in their ranks, the Asian side should prove worthy adversaries in Brazil.
Recent Results: Croatia 2-0 Serbia, Wales 1-2 Croatia
Having failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, Croatia seem in defiant mood as they seek to reach Brazil next year.
Igor Stimac has his side playing tactically efficient football, overcoming potentially tricky opponents to stay neck and neck with Belgium atop Group A.
The past seven days have seen the Blazers defeat Serbia and Wales with clinical displays.
Recent Results: San Marino 0-8 England, Montenegro 1-1 England
While it may surprise some to see England so low in the power rankings, their disappointing qualifying performances deserve little better.
The Three Lions laboured to a draw in Montenegro Tuesday, sloppily letting their opponents back into the game having taken an early lead.
Doubts remain regarding whether or not Roy Hodgson has the tactical nous to restore the side to its former glory.
13. Ivory Coast
Recent Result: Ivory Coast 3-0 Gambia
The African side that is currently best placed to threaten the natural order at Brazil 2014 has to be the Ivory Coast.
Led by established players like the Toure brothers, Didier Zokora and Salomon Kalou with such burgeoning stars as Seydou Doumbia and Wilfried Bony, the Elephants have a terrific team on paper.
Their biggest problem in past tournaments, though, has been turning such talent into wins.
Recent Results: Uruguay 1-1 Paraguay, Chile 2-0 Uruguay
Uruguay's march to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup was perhaps the story of the tournament.
La Celeste backed up that run with a victory in the Copa America a year later, but haven't been as dominant in qualifying for Brazil 2014.
Oscar Tabarez's side currently sit just outside the automatic places for qualification, but should they make it to Rio, they could very well be a contender to make a deep run.
Recent Results: Macedonia 0-2 Belgium, Belgium 1-0 Macedonia
Belgium's rise in international football can be almost wholly attributed to the huge wealth of young talent at manager Marc Wilmots' disposal.
None of Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard, Nacer Chadli, Kevin De Bruyne, Kevin Mirallas, Christian Benteke or Romelu Lukaku are over the age of 26.
Should this team peak come 2014, few would bet against them challenging the likes of Spain and Brazil.
Recent Results: Colombia 5-0 Bolivia, Venezuela 1-0 Colombia
As we move into the top 10, Jose Pekerman's Colombia find their way onto the list.
Los Cafeteros currently sit in third place in the CONMEBOL group, five points with a game in hand behind leaders Argentina.
A resounding 5-0 win over Bolivia at the weekend was followed by a tight defeat to Venezuela on Tuesday.
Recent Results: France 3-1 Georgia, France 0-1 Spain
Having been almost perennial underachievers at recent major tournaments, France should enter Brazil 2014 in a better state than before.
Manager Didier Deschamps seems to be the right man for the job and has the side improving.
That's providing they make the tournament though—Les Tricolores are currently embroiled in a close battle with Spain for automatic qualification from Group I.
Recent Result: Ecuador 4-1 Paraguay
Ecuador have surprised some with their excellent performances in qualifying, beating the likes of Paraguay, Chile and Colombia in clinical fashion.
There may not be as much talent at Reinaldo Rueda's disposal as there is for managers of other South American teams, but La Tri are a well-organised unit.
If they win their game in hand, Ecuador will be just one point back from CONMEBOL group leaders Argentina.
Recent Result: Brazil 1-1 Russia (friendly)
Russia shouldn't be discounted as a major threat to reach the latter stages of Brazil 2014.
Four games into qualifying and Fabio Capello's side are a perfect four from four, having defeated Azerbaijan, Portugal, Israel and Northern Ireland without conceding a single goal.
A team that has struggled at past World Cups, Russia has failed to progress past the quarter-final stage since 1966.
Recent Result: Malta 0-2 Italy
A four-time winner of the World Cup, Italy will be expected to make a significant impression at Brazil 2014.
Qualifying has gone well for the Azzurri as they sit atop Group B comfortably ahead of Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Denmark.
Their most recent victory over Malta came courtesy of a brace from rejuvenated striker Mario Balotelli.
Recent Results: Italy 2-2 Brazil (friendly), Brazil 1-1 Russia (friendly)
As hosts for the 2014 World Cup, Brazil haven't had to worry about the stress of qualifying.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's relatively young and inexperienced side hasn't been in top form in recent months, losing 2-1 to England in a friendly in February.
With the tournament on their home turf, Brazil will be expected not just to make the latter stages, but to win it all for a frenzied fanbase.
4. The Netherlands
Recent Results: Netherlands 3-0 Estonia, Netherlands 4-0 Romania
The Netherlands come in at fourth—the Oranje have been in relentless form in qualifying and currently lead Group D by a resounding seven points.
Louis van Gaal's side has won all six of their games, scoring 20 goals and conceding only two.
The 2010 World Cup runners-up would be higher on this list were it not for their underwhelming display at the 2012 European Championships.
Recent Results: Argentina 3-0 Venezuela, Bolivia 1-1 Argentina
The leading South American contender to take down the 2014 World Cup has to be Argentina.
Led by Lionel Messi (heard of him?), Alejandro Sabella's side has won seven of their 11 qualifying games, losing only to Venezuela last year.
Argentina have failed to progress past the quarter-finals stage since Italy 1990, where they finished runners-up to West Germany.
Recent Results: Kazakhstan 0-3 Germany, Germany 4-1 Kazakhstan
Another World Cup qualifying campaign, another comfortable journey to the big one for Germany.
Joachim Low's seven-year tenure in charge of the team can be regarded as a successful one, even if it has yet to yield a major trophy.
With two comfortable wins over Kazakhstan over the long weekend, Germany have extended their lead atop Group C to eight points.
Recent Results: Spain 1-1 Finland, France 0-1 Spain
Despite a shocking home draw against Finland on Friday, the leading contender for Brazil 2014 has to be Spain.
The reigning World and European champions will be extremely difficult to dethrone next year, coached by the experienced and dignified Vicente Del Bosque.
A Pedro goal gave La Roja a 1-0 win over France Tuesday to send them a point clear of their neighbours, five games into qualification.
Who do you think deserves to be higher up this list? Who has been overrated?