World Cup Predictions 2014: Squads That Will Make Deep Runs

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World Cup Predictions 2014: Squads That Will Make Deep Runs
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The draw is finally set for the 2014 World Cup, and some contenders from the group stage look poised to make a deep run in Brazil.

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report

There is no shortage of clubs that are capable of making a deep run. Sleepers are sure to threaten the giants, but which ones will actually advance past the early stages of the tournament?

Here's an early look at who will challenge in the latter stages of the World Cup.

 

Brazil

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It would be an utter failure for Brazil not to win the 2014 World Cup on their home soil, so you can imagine it's hard to put into words what it would be called if this national team failed to even get into the quarterfinals.

The expectations for Selecao are as high as ever for this summer, with Neymar coming into his own as a world power and a heap of playmakers gelling together perfectly at an ideal time. Fred is scoring goals at will, Hulk has finally started to show signs of international consistency and there's enough talent in the defense and midfield to compete with any team.

With an experienced defense and a heap of young stars up front, the sky is the limit for Brazil. They can play with any sort of team due to the ability to shut down potent offenses and score often on their own.

Brazil play with a lot of confidence and exuberance, both of which are amplified in front of a home crowd. And it just so happens that they'll be playing in front of a sellout Brazil crowd in every match, whether it's against Honduras or Spain.

 

Netherlands

Lars Baron/Getty Images

Holland have been incredibly up and down in their recent performances on the big international stage. After making it all the way to the 2010 World Cup final—the most recent world championship—and taking Spain to the wire, they failed to secure a single point in the group stage at Euro 2012.

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Undoubtedly motivated by their dud of a performance in Euro, the Netherlands went on a tear through the final stages of World Cup qualifying, winning nine and drawing one in 10 matches to dominate Group D.

Few nations bring in the amount of experience blended with talent as the Dutch, who boast Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder along with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart. Each of those players has been world class in stretches, and each is either 29 or 30 years of age.

At 29 and 30, this will likely be the last World Cup trip for some—if not all—of these players, and that will certainly motivate them to make a deep run. After coming within minutes of the championship in 2010, they have that taste in their mouths and will be dead set on getting back.

 

Argentina

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Brazil won't be the only nation feeling somewhat of a home advantage, as fellow South American giant Argentina will enjoy a close proximity to the World Cup.

Powered by Lionel Messi, it's hard to argue against the notion that this is one of the most potent offensive attacks on the planet. While Messi runs away with best player in the world arguments, he's not alone up top.

Striker Gonzalo Higuain and dangerous attacking forward Sergio Aguero are two of the best in the business at putting the ball in the net, and they also have a heap of experience now playing alongside Messi in attacking formats.

With Sergio Romero in goal and Pablo Zabaleta along with Javier Mascherano in the back, they can shut things down on defense at any time, as well.

Argentina have the full package, and if Messi continues to score in practically every match he plays in, they could go all the way. 

 

Spain

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone else on this list has a good chance of making a deep run, but it's all but concrete that Spain will.

Coming in having won the 2008 Euro, 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro, the Spanish are trying to win their second straight world championship and etch their place in the record books as one of the greatest dynasties of all time in any sport.

The core group is still intact with Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Pique, Sergio Ramos and David Villa still holding down their respective ends of the pitch. There's a heap of young depth that looks ready to be called upon, so much so that there may not even be room for dangerous strikers such as Fernando Torres.

Spain may play a boring brand of football that lulls viewers to sleep, but it's a winning formula, and there's no way around that fact. It's a foregone conclusion that Spain will waltz out of the group stage and likely won't be tested until the semifinal round.  

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