With the big kick-off in Brazil edging ever closer, all 32 competing nations are looking to build momentum ahead of the Group Stage to make World Cup 2014 a tournament to remember.
Though the favourites have their tags for a reason, the form book can play a crucial role when it comes to Group matches, and over the decades we've seen in-form nations take incredible scalps in World Cup matches with their confidence flying high.
Here, we take a group-by-group look at how teams are looking to build up a head of steam ahead of the World Cup and look at which sides will arrive in Brazil in form.
|Mexico||Bosnia and Herzegovina||June 4|
|Chile||Northern Ireland||June 4|
|Spain||El Salvador||June 7|
|Ivory Coast||El Salvador||June 4|
|Costa Rica||Republic of Ireland||June 6|
|Costa Rica||Republic of Ireland||June 6|
|Argentina||Trinidad & Tobago||June 4|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Mexico||June 4|
|Iran||Trinidad & Tobago||June 8|
|Ghana||South Korea||June 9|
|Republic of Ireland||June 10|
|South Korea||Ghana||June 9|
The host nation always seems to have a bit of luck on their side in a World Cup. In fact, 2010’s early exit for South Africa was the first time that the hosts hadn't progressed past the opening round in a World Cup—per BBC News.
Not that the star-studded Brazilians will need a lot of luck heading into this summer’s tournament, though, with the five-time winners in scintillating form.
According to Soccerway, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men have won their last eight matches on the spin, and with a friendly against Serbia still to come, they’ll likely head into the World Cup curtain-raiser with Croatia on a nine-match winning streak.
Matches against Mexico and Cameroon follow for the hosts, where the confidence and togetherness that they've acquired over the last year of internationals will surely see them through to the knockout stage.
While there are some that would argue that England’s 2014 World Cup squad is the worst to head to the summer tournament in decades, Roy Hodgson’s side will arrive in Brazil in strong form.
The Three Lions have lost just two of their last 14 matches, per SoccerWay, and none away from Wembley Stadium since November 2012.
Having confidence in the England camp can be the difference between a stellar campaign and the routine penalty shoot-out elimination, and manager Roy Hodgson insisted that everything is going to plan so far—per BBC Sport:
We've still got a lot of work to do. There are two more weeks before we play Italy, two more weeks of work to put in, two more weeks for players to keep their form, improve their form, knock on the door even louder and I'm looking forward to that. I would be lying if I said these two weeks have gone anything other than exactly as I wanted them to go. We'll see what the next two weeks bring.
England take on Ecuador and Honduras in friendlies in Miami on Wednesday and Saturday respectively, and they will look to complete a clean sweep of pre-World Cup victories, having beaten Peru 3-0 at Wembley on May 30.
Though taking on the highly rated Italians will be a different prospect, coming into the tournament with three wins out of three will be a big boost for Hodgson’s stars.
Tipped to be dark horses for the World Cup, Belgium’s pre-tournament campaign will give them the perfect platform from which to build in the finals.
As Soccerway’s results show, Marc Wilmots’ side are unbeaten in their three warm-up matches so far and are likely to keep that record going against Tunisia on Saturday.
With a draw against the Ivory Coast and impressive victories against Luxembourg and Sweden, Belgium have displayed the credentials that have made the top sides look over their shoulders heading into the World Cup.
In their last two matches, striker Romelu Lukaku has netted four times, including a fabulous strike against Sweden—as Coral revealed:
Romelu Lukaku now has 4 goals in 2 games after this beauty against Sweden yesterday. 33/1 to be top goalscorer at WC https://t.co/EPyXvEXHUL— Coral (@Coral) June 2, 2014
With favourable Group H opponents in Algeria, Russia and South Korea, the Belgians will be feeling invincible when they inevitably progress to the knockout stage.
The nation’s captain, Vincent Kompany, recently reflected on his side’s positivity, saying that they've come together as a unit for the World Cup—per the Daily Star, via Sky Sports:
If there's one thing to say about this squad it is that all the guys have such a great attitude and we're such a positive group. If any team deserves to do well at the World Cup based on team spirit, it's us. It is such a fantastic team to be involved in.
Though we've learned over the years that absolutely nothing is concrete in a World Cup campaign, heading into the tournament with a few wins under your belt can be all the difference.
Brazil, England and Belgium are three teams with the utmost belief in themselves as they look to make their mark on the biggest stage of them all.