World Cup 2014: Highlighting Top Sleepers Heading to Brazil

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World Cup 2014: Highlighting Top Sleepers Heading to Brazil
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World Cup 2014 is less than seven months away but is still awaiting 11 more nations to fill the remaining qualification spots.

Twenty-one countries have secured berths in next summer's month-long tournament in Brazil, including powerhouse squads like Spain, Germany and Argentina. But there are some dangerous teams flying under the radar heading into the new year.

Below, we'll highlight a trio of sleeper teams to keep an eye on as June draws closer.


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A young but dangerous squad, Belgium qualified for Brazil with ease, winning eight of 10 matches in UEFA Group A to win the group by nine points. 

While this unit is an inexperienced one when it comes to high-profile international competitions, the talent it boasts is undeniable. With English Premier League stars like Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Christian Benteke leading the way, Belgium won't be short on skill or potential next summer.

The Red Devils' exceptional play on both sides of the ball has been encouraging throughout qualification. Belgium only conceded four goals in 10 matches while leading Group A with 18 goals scored.

Frankly, there's a lot to like about this squad as it prepares to take football's grand stage.


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Despite having faded in the FIFA world rankings, Russia remains a team worth watching in Brazil next year.

Russia won UEFA Group F to earn an automatic bid, beating out a dangerous Portugal squad in the process. Like Belgium, Russia lacks a rich history of success on the big international stages, but it does boast emerging young talent like Alan Dzagoev, who has netted eight international goals since 2010.

The 23-year-old possesses phenomenal skill and an unrivaled will to win. When you add in the experience that veterans like Alexander Kerzhakov and Yuri Zhirkov provide, you can't help but feel Russia has the right blend of young and old to make a deep run in Brazil.


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Unlike Belgium and Russia, you won't find Japan anywhere inside the top 40 of the FIFA world rankings, but that doesn't mean the Samurai Blue won't make any noise in Brazil in 2014.

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After all, Japan reached the Round of 16 in South Africa in 2010 before falling to Paraguay on penalties and has plenty of World Cup experience, having advanced from the group stage in two of its past three attempts. 

With talented players like Keisuke Honda (19 international goals) and Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa (16 international goals) representing the Asian powerhouse in South America, Japan is sure to continue to exceed expectations. 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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