The 2014 World Cup will certainly be the biggest sports spectacle of the summer, as 32 of the world's best nations will compete for a chance at glory. But which teams have the best odds of actually outlasting the field?
ESPN's James Horncastle tweeted about four teams in particular that should be considered favorites:
Prandelli: Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain are the favourites. Behind them there are 6 or 7 teams among which there's Italy— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) December 28, 2013
Naturally, the odds reflect Horncastle's tweet.
Odds Shark has the World Cup odds as of May 25, and there really aren't any surprises. Brazil, the host nation, are favored both because of their wealth of talent and because of the home-field advantage.
Iran and Honduras come in with the smallest odds. Odds are only on paper, though. While there's a ton of analysis behind odds, anything can happen when the teams hit the pitch.
Below I'll break down the top nations' odds.
Brazil's strategy this World Cup will have to be different than in years past. The star power simply isn't the same. That said, they are still the favorites for a reason.
The Associated Press (via The Economic Times) broke down how the roster will have to be used by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari:
Without as many stars as in previous tournaments, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will rely on a squad mixed with young talents such as Neymar and some more experienced players such as Thiago Silva.
The era or Ronaldinho, Kaka and Robinho is clearly over for the five-time champions, so it will be up to the promising youngsters to carry the responsibility of giving Brazil the coveted title at home.
Neymar, 22, is one player in particular to keep an eye on. He proved himself on the national stage at last year's Confederation's Cup, leading Brazil to a title and earning the honor of being named the tournament's most valuable player.
Silva will also be leaned on heavily as the team's top defender and one of the few veterans left from the 2010 World Cup squad. Using the term "veteran" loosely—Silva is just 29—the veteran has played at a high level since he was very young and is seasoned enough to lead this team.
Neymar and Silva will be the talk of the World Cup in Brazil's pursuit of another championship.
Whenever a team has one of the top players in the sport, their chances are generally pretty high to succeed. Argentina are in that situation, as they boast a roster headlined by Lionel Messi.
Who will score the most goals for Argentina?
Messi was too young to make a real impact at the 2006 World Cup, and he failed in 2010. That said, the entire Argentina team was unsuccessful in South Africa, so all the blame can't be put squarely on his shoulders.
This year, though, things are expected to be different. This year's roster is so talented that coach Alejandro Sabella even left off a top-flight player like Carlos Tevez. Up front, Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain are expected to do most of the scoring.
Higuain has had success in the World Cup in the past, scoring four goals. Three came in a group match against South Korea.
If star power is what you like to see when choosing a nation to root for in the World Cup, then go for Argentina. They are stacked from top to bottom with some of the top players in the sport.
Coach Joachim Low made his final cuts on Monday, and Indo-Asian News Services broke down his choices:
Loew has cut three players as the national team coaches had to submit their final squad to FIFA. The German reduced his provisional 26-man squad to 23 by cutting Dortmund’s left back Marcel Schmelzer, Sampdoria’s defender Shkodran Mustafi and Hoffenheim striker Kevin Volland, reports Xinhua.
Loew will rely on tried and tested personnel such as captain Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira who will make the trip to Brazil despite injuries.
Germany earned a third-place finish in South Africa four years ago, but they'll be looking to improve this time around. While known for their attack, Germany also has a defense that will be able to keep higher-scoring offenses off the board.
Midfielder Sami Khedira wants his teammates to focus on the defensive aspect of the game. He told Kicker (via India.com) that defense will get them back to the promised land:
You can’t win a tournament with just attacking football. We were incredibly compact in 2010, everyone defended, which is something which we have lost since then. Before Euro 2012, I warned against always raving on about our great attacking football. We’ll win a few sympathy points by playing a nice attacking game, but that is no longer our goal. Our target is to finally get our hands on the cup.
If Germany plays even respectable defense, they have a shot at the Cup given their attack. It will be all about finding a balance between the two, and Loew will work hard in these coming weeks to prepare.