It will be title or bust for Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain when each favorite takes to the pitch this summer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
But while those four teams won't be the only ones under immense pressure to make a run at the FIFA World Cup trophy this summer, a handful of other contenders will have the advantage of coming in under the radar.
Below you'll find the latest odds for all 32 World Cup teams and a breakdown of three dark-horse contenders worth watching closely in Brazil.
|2014 World Cup Odds to Win it All|
|Odds via Oddsshark.com|
Despite needing a dramatic victory in the second leg of their playoff with Ukraine last November just to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, the French are certainly a threat to win it all this summer, as pointed out by StatsBomb.com's Ted Knutson:
Les Bleus drew a favorable group that features a guaranteed three points against Honduras and beatable foes in Ecuador and Switzerland. As a result, France will be favored to win Group E. And so long as Didier Deschamps' squad play to their potential, they should be easily through to the knockout stage.
With dynamic scorers like Franck Ribery (five goals in 10 qualifying matches) and Karim Benzema leading the way, the French possess the quality and depth to make a deep run similar to the one they made in Germany back in 2006.
What's more, having won on this stage in the past, this isn't a squad that will be intimidated if and when it finds itself up against a fellow world football superpower.
Like France, Uruguay didn't qualify for the World Cup until the very last minute. However, there's far too much talent at manager Oscar Tabarez's disposal for La Celeste to be counted out in Brazil.
Led by reigning PFA Player of the Year Luis Suarez, who netted 11 goals in 16 games during qualifying, Uruguay feature several experienced stars, including Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlan and captain Diego Lugano.
The big key for Uruguay will be getting off to a strong start in their group opener against Costa Rica. With so much talent at the top of their lineup, Uruguay are only going to improve as the tournament wears on, meaning they could wreak havoc if they can emerge from a challenging Group D that features plenty of danger with England and Italy.
Another important note to keep in mind: Each of the four previous World Cups contested in South America have been won by South American teams, including both of Uruguay's wins in 1930 and 1950.
As already mentioned, you're better off betting on a South American team to triumph in Brazil this summer if you're considering a dark horse.
And while Colombia's inexperience on the sport's grand stage and the uncertainly surrounding Radamel Falcao's health are legitimate concerns, Jose Pekerman's squad remain the class of Group C and are all but certain to advance to the knockout stage.
James Rodriguez and Fredy Guarin will each play pivotal roles in midfield and Teofilo Gutierrez and Jackson Martinez are more than capable of stepping up to fill the potential void up top if Falcao can't participate.
Earlier this month, the Monaco striker expressed optimism that he could be fit in time to return to the team during the World Cup, per Marca (via Goal.com's Enis Koylu):
The recovery is going well. I'm happy with the progress I've made. It's going better than expected and I hope to continue this way. It takes time. I have other procedures in my recovery when the moment will arrive to decide if I'll be available. I'm thinking of my knee, nothing else. I'm thinking of recovering, everything going well and playing at the World Cup.
Falcao scored nine goals in 13 qualifying games for Colombia. Therefore, if he's able to suit up at close to 100 percent, Los Cafeteros will instantly become a threat to win it all.
The difference for Colombia is their chemistry and ability to play as a unit. While it remains to be seen whether France can come together as one and reach their full potential, Colombia's efficient passing and assist numbers (ranked second in CONMEBOL qualifying) speak volumes about their cohesiveness and suggest a positive showing in Brazil.
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