The World Cup features four top contenders. Brazil, which is the host nation, defending champion Spain, Germany and Argentina create that formidable group. All of them will begin the tournament with high expectations and are likely to make deep runs.
Any of those four teams are undoubtedly capable of winning the title next summer. That said, there's also a strong batch of underrated squads capable of making a surprise run in the marquee international event. The depth of the tournament should make it one to remember.
With that in mind, let's examine three sides that are capable of finding top form leading up to the World Cup, which will make them dangerous in Brazil.
But first, here's how the draw played out:
And here's how the knockout stages will step up:
France is one of the most intriguing teams in the tournament. The last World Cup was a disaster as it bowed out after the group stage, and it took a major comeback against Ukraine in the UEFA qualifying playoffs just to earn a berth this time around.
Yet, one glance at the roster reveals a team with enough talent to make a run. Led by superstar Franck Ribéry, the potent attacking combo of Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud and an experienced defensive group, Les Bleus have all the pieces they need to make a major impact.
Consistency has been a significant issue, which is why France needed a playoff to qualify. Yet, in matches like the dominant 3-0 win over Ukraine that allowed France to reach the World Cup, it's easy to see why Les Bleus are bullish about their chances despite not always playing up to their potential.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
A 2-0 loss in a friendly with Argentina last month showed Bosnia and Herzegovina still has work to do leading up to the World Cup. Yet, the scoreline isn't totally indicative of the match, which was closely contested throughout and could have easily been a draw if the Zmajevi capitalized on their chances.
As it stands now, the Bosnian squad is a collection of promising pieces. Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic are going to put a lot of pressure on opposing back lines. Zvjezdan Misimovic provides stability in the middle, and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic is capable of stealing matches, as he's shown for Stoke City.
The biggest challenge is getting the supporting cast to elevate their level of play to take the pressure off Dzeko and Co. If Miralem Pjanic and Sead Kolasinac, among others, can step up next summer, Bosnia will be a very tough out.
Bob Bradley did well with the United States, but near the end of his tenure it seemed like he got the most out of the squad that he could. The Americans brought in Jürgen Klinsmann to see if a fresh voice could lead a surge, and the head coach has done exactly that.
The United States had a very successful 2013, which featured finishing atop the CONCACAF qualifying table as well as wins over Germany and the aforementioned Bosnia and Herzegovina. Building off that success points toward making some noise in Brazil.
Klinsmann has done a lot of lineup shuffling as manager. For the World Cup, he must find a way to get Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley on the field together in roles where they can all succeed. If he does, the United States could surprise some people in a tough group.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!