Power Ranking the South American Nations on Current World Cup Form
The World Cup is just a year away, making it a perfect time to gather thoughts ahead of the impending madness.
South American qualifying for the tournament is nearing an end, with the continent's finalists beginning to take shape for an event in which they will feel they have a real chance of success.
With many European nations, in particular, unfamiliar with the conditions in Brazil, there will be South American sides eyeing major scalps next summer.
Brazil and Argentina, meanwhile, will once more expect to be major challengers for the title.
Let's make an attempt at ranking South America's international sides ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
8-10. Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia
Another country with an outside shot at World Cup qualification ahead of next summer, Peru will feel disappointed if they don't finish the campaign strongly.
Away form has cost a promising side better results in qualification, with a group of talented youngsters emerging to support the likes of Jefferson Farfan, Juan Vargas and Claudio Pizarro.
An upcoming home fixture with Uruguay will be key to their hopes, while qualification could potentially do wonders for a country very much on the rise in footballing terms.
Rock bottom in qualifying, Paraguay's position is far from representative of where they could be in the standings. After all, this is a side that came second at the Copa America just two years ago.
A recent upturn in results under manager Gerardo Pelusso came to an end with defeats to Ecuador and Chile, but there have at least been some signs of hope for the future.
Paraguay are blessed with some talented players currently showing their wares at the Under-20 World Cup, and the hope will be to integrate several of that group as attention switches to the 2015 and 2016 Copa Americas.
Bolivia may not be bottom of the qualification table, but there is little doubting that they are the weakest football side in the CONMEBOL federation at present.
Attacking midfielders Jhasmani Campos and Rudy Cardozo are talented playmakers, while Marcelo Moreno is a more than decent striker, but there is a lack of ability across the squad.
Home victories against some of their weaker rivals have managed to somewhat hide their deficiencies, but Bolivian football still has a long way to go.
Venezuela are undoubtedly an improving footballing force, and there is still an outside chance that they will qualify for Brazil 2014 if Uruguay should slip up. However, they still have some way to go before they can challenge the footballing elite.
The truth is that the Vinotinto are capable of beating most sides in South America, but cannot yet do so on a consistent basis. The generation of players that emerged in 2009 has also not been followed up by further successes.
If they can get striker Salomon Rondon scoring, then there is still hope of the required wins to reach the World Cup. Beyond the former Malaga man and Borussia Monchengladbach's Juan Arango, though, inspiration is lacking.
While ahead of both Chile and Uruguay in qualifying, less will be expected of Ecuador come next summer's World Cup by virtue of their rivals' past successes at getting to knockout rounds.
Ecuador, though, should not be dismissed on account of their home field advantages in qualification. They boast a side with one of the continent's meanest defences, and also a skilled and vibrant attacking unit.
Forwards Felipe Caicedo and Cristian Benitez will be looked to as goalscorers, while wingers Jefferson Montero and Antonio Valencia both boast considerable reputations.
If they can transfer their solidity of qualification into the tournament proper, they will be a side capable of shocking more fancied opponents.
Some morale boosting wins at the Confederations Cup will have done Uruguay a world of good heading into the next year, but their qualification for the World Cup is still far from secure.
A victory over Venezuela earlier this month has put La Celeste into a playoff position for a place at Brazil 2014, but they have some highly challenging fixtures remaining.
On paper, there is enough quality and experience in Oscar Tabarez's side to make an impression at the competition next summer.
However, to do so, they must rekindle the spirit of their 2011 Copa America win that has seemed such a distant memory in recent times.
After a mixed qualification campaign in 2012, Chile will be delighted with a run of three recent victories in succession that have seen them virtually confirm their presence in Brazil next summer.
The ascension of Jorge Sampaoli into the head coach position has given the side a new lease on life, with many of those in the squad former Sampaoli charges from his time at Universidad de Chile.
The Chileans will not be expected to reach the final couple of rounds next summer, but have both the technical ability and setup to cause some more renowned teams great problems.
One of the best sides anywhere in the world to watch when on form, the World Cup will be better off with Chile's presence.
Second best only to Argentina in qualification for the World Cup next summer, there is a growing feeling that Jose Pekerman's side could be real dark horses at the tournament.
The progress of recent years has been built upon, with the Cafeteros having established a solid core of 15-16 players who have the trust of their manager, as well as an array of top-level footballing experience.
An ageing defence will be a worry, but two exceptional full-backs and a wonderfully gifted forward line mean that they should score against most opponents. Striker Radamel Falcao, in particular, will be key to their hopes.
Just a couple of weeks ago, it is unlikely that Brazil would have featured so high on this list. However, the Selecao have clicked into gear at the Confederations Cup and now look capable of mounting a respectable challenge next summer.
With Neymar freed of his burdens, with his move to Barcelona sewn up, the young star has come to the fore in a forward line that has rediscovered its spark. Cheered on by a passionate home crowd, they look a real threat once more.
It will be an important 12 months ahead for Luiz Felipe Scolari and his side, who must carry forward the momentum gained at this tournament. A home World Cup, though, is a fantastic opportunity to shine.
Top of the South American qualification standings and virtually assured of their place at the 2014 World Cup, there is no doubting that Argentina are the most powerful and stable side on the continent.
Barring domestic based fixtures with Brazil, the Albiceleste are unbeaten in 17 international fixtures and appear to have finally found a balance to get the best out of their attacking stars.
Manager Alejandro Sabella must take great credit for the change in the side's fortunes since he replaced Sergio Batista following a disastrous 2011 Copa America campaign, giving his side a great chance of success next summer.
With the World Cup being played in familiar conditions, they will be among the favourites for the title.