A lot can change in four years. Some players will retire, others will get hurt, some will no longer feature in the lineup of their respective national team and some will play for countries that will fail to quality for the 2014 World Cup.
It is always fun to look ahead at what the 2014 tournament could look like.
The tournament will be in Brazil and even though the Brazilian squad figures to feature many changes from its 2010 squad, the five-time champions will be the team to beat.
With such a deep talent pool, Brazil should be able to put together a strong 23.
Alexandre Pato of AC Milan could feature as the team’s offensive star.
Other top prospects to watch for include Rafael and Rodrigo Possebon of Manchester United. Bayern Munich defender Breno is another top prospect.
Germany would be the pre-tournament favorite if Brazil was not the host country. The Germans should return much of the 2010 team that finished in third place. The outstanding midfield could all return. Led by Bastian Schweinsteiger, the group should also include Mesut Osil, Sami Khedira, Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos and Marko Marin. Timo Gebhart could be a new name to look for.
Defending champion Spain will still be strong and should return a quality core.
Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva figure to be the Spanish stars in the midfield and Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique are the top names in the back. Iker Casillas will be 33, but should be able to keep his starting job in goal.
Bojan Krkic could be the top new addition.
Argentina will always have offensive talent and Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore are almost certain bets.
One question Argentina will face is whethor or not they can develop players in other positions.
The Netherlands should expect to have its two stars Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder back, but the squad will have many new faces.
Italy and France had tournaments to forget in 2010, but both should fare much better in Brazil.
Midfielder Daniele De Rossi will probably be the captain for the Azzurri and the defense has many quality prospects led by Davide Santon, Lorenzo Di Silvestre and Andrea Ranocchia.
And then of course, there is forward Mario Balotelli. Balotelli has faced some personal issues, but if he can put those behind him, some feel he could be one of the world’s best players.
France will turn a page and begin a new era under new coach Laurent Blanc. The French have a solid No.1 in Hugo Lloris, who should be his national team’s top keeper for the next decade.
Attacking midfielder Yoann Gourcuff should return. Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri are two top young players that were surprisingly left off the 2010 team.
England, which was disappointed with its 2010 performance, doesn’t appear to have as many young stars coming up. But one that is highly regarded is Jack Wilshere of Arsenal. He could be the replacement for Frank Lampard.
Wayne Rooney will return and he should have some good wingers in Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott to help out. Steven Gerrard will be 34, and may still be able to play in one more World Cup.
You have four years to digest this all.
Have fun until all 32 teams meet again in Brazil.
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