5 World Cup Nations That Could Be the Next Spain

Jerrad PetersWorld Football Staff WriterOctober 9, 2013

KIEV, UKRAINE - JULY 01:  (L-R) Gerard Pique, Pepe Reina, Fernando Llorente and Iker Casillas of Spain pose with the trophy following victory in the UEFA EURO 2012 final match between Spain and Italy at the Olympic Stadium on July 1, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It’s hard to believe Spain were once international football’s great choke artists.

Heading into the upcoming round of Brazil 2014 qualifiers (they’ll host Belarus and Georgia and need only three points to seal automatic progression to the competition). La Roja are World Cup holders and have also won each of the last two European championships.

Andres Iniesta scores the World Cup-winning goal in 2010.
Andres Iniesta scores the World Cup-winning goal in 2010.Michael Steele/Getty Images

A core group of players—Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Iker Casillas—has delivered unprecedented success to Spain over the past half-decade and more, and as many of them get along in years it begs a fascinating question.

Are there nations that could replicate Spain’s success on the international stage? In other words, are there national squads that could conceivably win three major competitions over the next five years?

The following is a look at five possibilities, in alphabetical order.

 

Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - MARCH 28: Argentine players celebrate Lionel Messi's first goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South African qualifier match between Argentina and Venezuela at River Plate Stadium on March 28, 2009 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Ph
Photogamma/Getty Images

Argentina booked their place in an 11th successive World Cup last month and will conclude their qualification campaign with upcoming matches at home to Peru and away to Uruguay.

Ladbrokes has Argentina second-favourites to win the 2014 World Cup at 5.50/1.

 

Starring in 2014 & 2018: Sergio Romero, Federico Fernandez, Ezequiel Garay, Angel Di Maria, Ever Banega, Erik Lamela, Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi

 

Starting XI, 2014: Romero, Zabaleta, Fernandez, Garay, Rojo, Gago, Biglia, Di Maria, Aguero, Messi, Palacio

 

Starting XI, 2018: Romero; Zabaleta, Fernandez, Garay, Rojo; Banega, Biglia, Di Maria, Lamela, Messi, Palacio

Much of Argentina’s current core of players is 26 years old or younger, including talisman Lionel Messi. It’s hard to fathom the best player in the world retiring without having won at least a single World Cup, and over the next five years he’ll have the opportunity to win a pair.

 

Belgium

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - AUGUST 14:  Eden Hazard of Belgium moves away from Dimitri Payet during the International friendly match between Belgium and France at the King Baudouin Stadium on August 14, 2013 in Brussels, Belgium.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Ima
David Rogers/Getty Images

Belgium are assured of at least a playoff spot and can book an automatic place in the 2014 tournament by taking a single point from upcoming qualifiers away to Croatia and at home to Wales.

Ladbrokes has Belgium seventh-favourites to win the 2014 World Cup at 17/1.

 

Starring in 2014 & 2018: Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Marouane Fellaini, Mousa Dembele, Eden Hazard, Christian Benteke, Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku

 

Starting XI, 2014: Courtois, Alderweireld, Lombaerts, Kompany, Pocognoli, Fellaini, Dembele, Chadli, Mirallas, Lukaku, Hazard

 

Starting XI, 2018: Courtois, Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Kompany, Pocognoli, Fellaini, Dembele, Chadli, De Bruyne, Lukaku, Hazard

Rarely is a generation of up-and-coming internationals so large, so deep at every position and so capable of producing magic. Belgium manager Marc Wilmots is spoiled for choice when it comes to his selections, but so long as the Red Devils have the likes of Courtois, Kompany, Hazard and Lukaku at the core they’ll contend in every competition they enter.

 

Brazil

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 07:(L-R) Maicon, Paulinho, Neymar, Jo and Bernad of Brazil celebrate a scored goal against Australia during the International friendly between Brazil and Australia at Mane Garrincha Stadium on September 07, 2013 in Brasilia, B
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

As World Cup hosts Brazil will continue their streak of competing in every World Cup since the first tournament proper in 1930. They recently beat Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup and will benefit from partisan support next June and July.

Ladbrokes has Brazil favourites to win the 2014 World Cup at 4.33/1.

 

Starring in 2014 & 2018: David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Lucas Moura, Oscar, Bernard, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Hulk, Neymar

 

Starting XI, 2014: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho, Luiz Gustavo, Hulk, Oscar, Neymar, Fred

 

Starting XI, 2018: Jefferson, Rafael, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Oscar, Lucas Moura, Neymar, Bernard

Brazil have an all-world player in Neymar just entering his prime and a solid central defense supported by elite, holding midfielders who also know when to join the attack. Although mostly a conglomeration of positional specialists, there are enough special pieces in this Brazil side to keep it in contention thru the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

 

Germany

WARSAW, POLAND - JUNE 28:  (L-R back row) Holger Badstuber, Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels,  Mario Gomez, Sami Khedira and Jerome Boateng (L-R front row) Philipp Lahm, Lukas Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil of Germany line up for a
Joern Pollex/Getty Images

Germany will punch their ticket to the 2014 World Cup if they take at least a point from their remaining qualifiers at home to the Republic of Ireland and away to Sweden. They have progressed to the semifinals of each of the last five major tournaments they have entered.

Ladbrokes has Germany third-favourites to win the 2014 World Cup at 6/1.

 

Starring in 2014 & 2018: Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Benedikt Howedes, Jerome Boateng, Marcel Schmelzer, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler, Andre Schurrle, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze, Thomas Muller, Marco Reus, Max Kruse

 

Starting XI, 2014: Neuer, Lahm, Hummels, Boateng, Schmelzer, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Muller, Ozil, Draxler, Gomez

 

Starting XI, 2018: Neuer, Lahm, Hummels, Boateng, Schmelzer, Khedira, Kroos, Muller, Ozil, Draxler, Volland

There is a slight drop-off in the generation of underage Germany internationals following the current group, but in Neuer, Hummels, Kroos, Khedira, Muller, Ozil and Draxler Die Nationalmannschaft will still go into the 2018 World Cup cycle with plenty of quality and a core that has already played together for almost a half-decade.

 

Spain

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 18:  Thiago Alcantara of Spain poses with the trophy after winning the UEFA European U21 Championship final match against Italy at Teddy Stadium on June 18, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Why not? After all, their dominance may not end here. The group of players that have already won a pair of European Championships and the 2010 World Cup will be one of the hot favourites to repeat in Brazil. Nipping at their heels is an up-and-coming collection of talent that has won back-to-back UEFA Under-21 Championships. Spain may yet take some toppling.

Ladbrokes has Spain fourth-favourites to win the 2014 World Cup at 6.5/1.

 

Starring in 2014 & 2018: Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, David Silva, Sergio Busquets, Juan Mata, Cesc Fabregas

 

Starting XI, 2014: Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Silva, Fabregas, Iniesta

 

Starting XI, 2018: De Gea, Carvajal, Martinez, Pique, Alba, Thiago, Illarramendi, Mata, Isco, Iniesta, Morata

In the likes of Isco, Asier Illarramendi and Thiago it would seem La Roja are set in the midfield for the next decade. Many of Spain’s U-21 stars have already been called into the senior side, and following the 2014 World Cup the manager will be tasked with blooding them into the setup. Another five or 10 years of dominance could await.