Ranking the 9 Teams in World Cup Draw Pot 4

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2013

Ranking the 9 Teams in World Cup Draw Pot 4

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    With the World Cup draw coming up soon, it is now time to take a look at the specific nations that will be represented.

    World Cup draw pot four features the European teams that didn't make it into the top pot, but that doesn't mean it isn't full of quality. In fact, pot four is arguably second only to the top group of the best teams in the world.

    In this article we will take the time to rate the eight teams in pot four based on their ability and the stars likely to be in the squads. Keep reading to find out where your nation ranks.

Number 9: Greece

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    Greece put up a massive fight with Bosnia-Herzegovina in the group stages with both teams finishing with 25 points. Greece was forced the play in the second round of matches for their shot at Brazil and earned their place by defeating Romania 4-2 on aggregate.

    Greece boasts a rather strong defense having only conceded four goals during the qualifying group stage. However, their midfield play is lacking quite a bit. 

    Georgos Samaras and Kostas Mitroglou lead a more than capable strike force, though the team has not been as consistent in front of goal as they would like.

    In no way is Greece a weak team or an easy match for any nation. Yet compared with the others in the group, they fall just a bit short.

Number 8: Bosnia-Herzegovina

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    As stated in the previous slide, Bosnia-Herzegovina were equal with Greece in their group on 25 points. However, they were not forced to compete in the playoff round which has them one place above their group rivals.

    When it comes down to it, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a very well-balanced team and that can be dangerous.

    Their defense is led by goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and captain Emir Spahic, though the rest of the defense could use some work if we are being honest.

    Midfielders Miralem Pjanic and Haris Medunjanin have proven they have the quality to compete with much bigger nations. In truth, it is often surprising to see just how well their midfield can play against better opposition.

    The real story for this team over the past few years has been their ability to put up big numbers at times.

    Edin Dzeko leads the attacking line and is the team's biggest threat. While Bosnia-Herzegovina may not have the quality to win the World Cup at Brazil, they do have what it takes to produce some surprises if opponents are not prepared.

Number 7: Croatia

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    There is a lot to like about Croatia. If I'm honest, they are actually one of the teams I most enjoy watching. They have improved every year for a while now and are ready to make an impact at the World Cup.

    Croatia finished second in the qualifying behind Belgium who absolutely ran away from the rest of the group, but don't let that take away from what they showed.

    Led by talented midfielders Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia knows how to build up play. Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic leads the attack and is the perfect finisher for their style of play.

    Croatia's defense needs a lot of work, but there is time to improve things before the World Cup arrives.

Number 6: Portugal

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    I will be honest, it is difficult to put Portugal this low when they have a star the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo leading the team. But that may be the very reason they are this low.

    Portugal has more than a few stars in their squad. Pepe, Fabio Coentrao and Joao Moutinho are tremendously talented players, but there is a problem.

    During qualification Portugal became extremely reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo. This was seen in the playoff matches against Sweden as well when Portugal's entire strategy seemed to be passing the ball to Ronaldo.

    Despite having other talented stars, Portugal doesn't seem to be able to put a lot together these days without Ronaldo doing the bulk of the work.

    Relying on the massive talent of Ronaldo may have gotten them past Sweden, but that won't cut it in the World Cup. Maybe by the time they get to Brazil they will have more balanced play, but as of now that just isn't the case.

Number 5: France

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    Since dominating the world at the turn of the century, France have made life difficult for themselves at the top table.

    This World Cup has proved to be no different, as they only scraped through to the finals via a play-off.

    The guillotine was being sharpened for France boss Didier Deschamps when they trailed Ukraine after the first leg, but a brilliant fightback took the French through.

    France are a tough team to predict, as they have a raft of top-class players who could take them deep into the competition.

    However, which versions of Franck Ribery, Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema will turn up?

    Your guess is as good as ours.

Number 4: England

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    For some this placement is too low for England, for others it is too high. One thing is for sure though, England is in a weird place in their football history.

    They were able to win their qualifying group by edging out Ukraine by a mere point, but the rest of the group did not pose much of a challenge. Even so, England never looked like an absolute dominant side.

    There is no doubting the talent in the English squad. Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere, Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney are world-class players and that barely scratches the surface of what England has to offer.

    But despite their wealth of talent, England has just not been able to put it all together lately.

    Going into the World Cup, nobody is really expecting England to be a threat to the likes of Spain, Germany and Brazil. While that may be true, the amount of quality in the squad cannot be overlooked.

    The future of English football is up in the air, but when the World Cup gets here you can bet on the players giving everything they've got.

Number 3: Russia

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    Russia topped their qualifying group with 22 points, beating out Portugal by only one point. Though it was a tight race to win the group, Russia was clearly the better side throughout the entire qualifying stage.

    This team seems to be improving every day. Under the leadership of Fabio Capello, Russia is becoming even stronger and will be a very tough opponent for anyone that faces them in Brazil.

    Led by Alan Dzagoev and Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Russia is a very exciting attacking team. They also boast a veteran defense making them well-rounded and extremely smart.

    Over the past year or so, Russia has showed that they know how to win. They may not have the best players in the world, but they know how to play their way and make all the pieces fit.

    Anyone who faces them in Brazil will have a test on their hands. There are always a few wild cards in every tournament and Russia fits that bill perfectly.

Number 2: Netherlands

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    After being completely demolished at EURO 2012, the boys in orange are starting to turn things around. But it is clear that the Netherlands is no longer the same team that faced off with Spain in the last World Cup. 

    Despite what happened last summer, the Netherlands is still a force to be reckoned with.

    The formidable trident of Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder led the Orange, who topped their qualifying group, by nine points. But there are plenty of other stars in this Netherlands team.

    By far the most dangerous things about the Netherlands are their unpredictability and experience. 

    The core players for the Orange have been playing together for quite some time and know how to compete at the World Cup. They will make things difficult for opponents and you can expect that they will want revenge after what happened in South Africa.


Number 1: Italy

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    Everyone saw Italy topping this list.

    The Italians were in incredible form at EURO 2012 until running into Spain. Since then, they have continued improving and will be coming into the World Cup as one of the top teams in the tournament.

    Italy has one of the best keepers of all time in Gigi Buffon as well as an incredible defense in front of him. The midfield is led by the likes of Andrea Pirlo and the attacking line boasts stars such as Mario Balotelli.

    In truth, Italy really does have it all. Their mix of youth and experience makes them very dangerous and you can bet they will be one of the favorites in Brazil.

    Over the last year or so, Italy has fallen short. They have been on the cusp of greatness only to have it ripped away. There may be no other team at the World Cup that wants it as bad as the Italians. They have a big chip on their shoulder.


    How would you rank the teams from World Cup draw pot four? Can any of them win the World Cup? Leave your thoughts and comments below!