World Cup 2014: Overlooked Teams Guaranteed to Make Noise in Brazil

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World Cup 2014: Overlooked Teams Guaranteed to Make Noise in Brazil
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The 32-team field for World Cup 2014 is just about set as Uruguay look to punch the final ticket Wednesday with a successful outing against Jordan. 

But although football powerhouses like Spain, Germany, Argentina and Brazil will head into the new year as overwhelming favorites to hoist the cup in the heart of South America next summer, there are plenty of other formidable squads flying under the radar.

Below, we'll break down a trio of overlooked teams that are guaranteed to grab your attention in Brazil next year.

 

Chile

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South America boasts several World Cup contenders heading into 2014, but Chile may be the most dangerous one being overlooked at the moment. 

Led by one of the country's all-time leading goalscorers in Alexis Sanchez, La Roja will be looking to improve on their Round of 16 finish in South Africa in 2010.

Having won nine of their 16 matches in CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 qualifyingthe same number as top finishers Argentina and Colombiathere's no reason to believe Chile aren't capable of making an impressive run to the quarterfinals or beyond. 

Recent performances against Ecuador, Colombia and Uruguay have certainly been encouraging for Jorge Sampaoli's side. Chile topped Uruguay 2-0 in March, earned a 3-3 draw with Colombia on the road in October and beat Ecuador 2-1 four days later.

Chile wrapped up 2013 by beating England 2-0 and playing World Cup 2014 hosts Brazil tough in a 2-1 loss in Toronto.

 

Portugal

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With arguably the best player on the planet in Cristiano Ronaldo on their side, Portugal are a safe bet to make a deep run in Brazil next summer.

Although the Iberians were knocked out early in 2010, they finished fourth in Germany in 2006 after beating European powerhouses like the Netherlands and England in the knockout stages. Keep in mind that Ronaldo contributed to both of those campaigns.

But there's a whole lot more to Portugal than their talented leader. Valencia's Helder Postiga and Fenerbahce defender Bruno Alves have combined to score 37 goals on the international stage and bring a much-needed veteran presence to the table. 

Nani and Pepe are two other easy-to-remember names sure to be mentioned plenty next summer.

Plus, having qualified in dramatic fashion at the last minute, Portugal will be feeling renewed ahead of next summer's tournament. 

 

Ivory Coast

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Despite having been bogged down in the group stage at each of the past two World Cup tournaments, Ivory Coast have gained some crucial experience since qualifying for the first time in 2006.

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Led by dominant striker and captain Didier Drogba, the underrated African squad boasts some recognizable names for English Premier League fans, including Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Cheick Tiote and Arouna Kone

Salomon Kalou and Wilfried Bony are two other dangerous forwards to watch for.

The Toure brothers have combined to make nearly 190 appearances while Swansea City's Bony has emerged as a serious goalscoring threat for the Elephants, having netted eight in 23 appearances. 

On top of all the individual talent that will be on display in Brazil, keep in mind that Ivory Coast are coming off a quarterfinal appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 and are currently the top-ranked African nation headed to Brazil.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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