World Cup Favorites 2014: Latest Odds, Top Teams, Players and Form Guide

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 30:  The Brazil players celebrate at the end of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Final match between Brazil and Spain at Maracana on June 30, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

With a host of the domestic campaigns finished and the footballing grapevine rife with squad announcements, it’s beginning to feel like we really are on the cusp of the 2014 World Cup.

And as supporters from across the planet cast their eye over the squads of the 32 competing teams, opinions will be formulated on what sides can win it and what players will shine.

So here, let’s run the rule over who the bookies fancy as potential World Cup winners, the teams set to thrill at the Brazil showpiece and the players that will light up the biggest football tournament there is.

 

Latest Odds

Here's the list of the five current favourites to win the 2014 World Cup, according to oddsshark.com (odds correct as of 6:30 p.m. BST, May 12), complete with the latest form of each team:

World Cup Winners - Latest odds
TeamOddsForm
Brazil3/1WWWWW
Argentina9/2WLDWD
Germany11/2WWDWW
Spain13/2WWWLW
Belgium14/1WDLLD
oddshark.com (Odds), soccerway.com (Form)

 

Top Teams

Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 30:  Fred of Brazil  lifts the trophy with histeam-mates at the end of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Final match between Brazil and Spain at Maracana on June 30, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Michael Re
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Qualifying as the host nation, Brazil go into this tournament having played little competitive football. They did thrive during the 2013 Confederations Cup, but the World Cup comes with added pressure and increased profile.

In the final of the Confederations Cup, Brazil blitzed current world champions Spain, cranking up the expectations even more ahead of the 2014 showpiece. Here's the squad that'll be looking to take their place in history, courtesy of FIFA's official Twitter account:

They have a host of talented players, a familiarity with the suffocating humidity and the backing of a fanatical nation. They’re the clear and deserved favourites ahead of the tournament, but the manner in which the team handle the weight of expectation will be vital to their chances.

 

Argentina

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 18: Teammates congratulate Sergio Aguero #10 of Argentina after Aguero scored his second goal of the match during the international friendly match between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina at Busch Stadium on November 18, 2013 in S
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

With a myriad of stellar attacking options, Argentina are superbly placed to secure their first world crown in 28 years.

Alejandro Sabella has fashioned a system that can facilitate the attacking talents of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain, and the Albiceleste look ready to outgun every other side on their way to glory.

Javier Mascherano gives the team an unshakable defensive presence in central midfield, while the defence and goalkeeper continue to improve.

The key for this team will be striking an ample balance between attack and defence. If they can facilitate a sturdy defensive platform for the likes of Messi and Aguero to flourish, Argentina are definitely capable of winning the title in the backyard of their bitterest rivals.

 

Spain

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 11: Princess Letizia, Queen Sofia of Spain and Spanish football team celebrates the victory in the Spanish dressing room after Spanish football tam won the 2010 FIFA World Cup at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Jo
Handout/Getty Images

The current holders seem to have been written off by a significant portion of supporters, but they remain one of the most likely sides to sample glory in Brazil.

In many respects, the harrowing 3-0 loss to Brazil in the summer of 2013 could act as a blessing in disguise. After winning three consecutive major tournaments, there was a worry that this team was becoming a little complacent, but that defeat will have them refocused ahead of the defence of their world crown.

The nexus of this squad is ageing, but it’s still rife with players that are proven winners and remain class acts. If Spain can secure their fourth major title on the bounce, then surely they will be considered as the greatest international side of all time.

 

Top Players

Lionel Messi, Argentina

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - FEBRUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of Argentina in action during the International Friendly match between Sweden and Argentina at the Friends Arena on February 6, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

There’s very little left for Lionel Messi to do in his quest to be lauded as the finest player of all time. He’s won everything there is to win with Barcelona, dragged his team to victory on many occasions, broken untold goal-scoring records and netted some of the greatest strikes we’re ever likely to see.  

But, he’s yet to win a World Cup and as such, many feel as though he’s not quite in the same bracket as players like Diego Maradona, Pele and Zinedine Zidane. If the diminutive genius can inspire Argentina to the most coveted prize of them all, then Messi will surely join, if not surpass, that illustrious company.

You could argue that he’ll never get a better chance to do so than on his home continent in the 2014 World Cup.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal  

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - NOVEMBER 19:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal runs with the ball during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Play-off Second Leg match between Sweden and Portugal at Friends Arena on November 19, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden.  (Photo by Martin
Martin Rose/Getty Images

Every so often you see a decent team made formidable because of a sprinkling of individual genius. A player so wonderful, that not only can he pull his team over the line himself, but he lifts those around him, making the collective feel better and perform better than they actually are.

When you consider how well Cristiano Ronaldo has been playing for Real Madrid this season, are we about to see something like this unfold at the 2014 World Cup? Ronaldo captains a Portugal side that are not a poor team by any means, but so often at major tournaments they’ve been without leadership and lacking direction.

Ronaldo is a phenomenal footballer, and he can give them that sort of impetus; you only need to look at how he fired Portugal to the finals with that stunning hat-trick in Stockholm, as you can see above.

 

Luis Suarez, Uruguay  

MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY - NOVEMBER 20:  Luis Suarez of Uruguay runs with the ball during leg 2 of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Uruguay and Jordan at Centenario Stadium Stadium on November 20, 2013 in Montevideo, Uruguay.  (Photo by Friedemann Vo
Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images

The Liverpool man has taken his game into stratospheric new levels this campaign, finishing the season as the Premier League’s top scorer, as shown here by Squawka:  

Uruguay boss Oscar Tabarez will be desperate for his star striker to carry his stellar club form into the Brazil World Cup. Suarez looks likely to partner Edinson Cavani in attack for the national side, and with little quality comparable to the aforementioned duo in the rest of the Uruguay team, the onus will be on both Suarez and Cavani to fire Uruguay to glory.  

With Suarez in this inspired, irresistible form, Uruguay are an absolute must-watch at the Brazil finals. Many feel he has firmly established himself as the world’s third-best player behind Messi and Ronaldo, and a strong performance here on the biggest stage of all will go a long way to cementing that status.