World Football: Top 10 Early Contenders for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil

James WillisAnalyst IApril 6, 2011

World Football: Top 10 Early Contenders for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    With the 2010 World Cup been and gone, it's time to look to the future. More specifically, it's time to look ahead to 2014 and the next World Cup in Brazil.

    Despite their being a number of international competitions still coming before 2014, they are all continental competitions (excluding the under 23 2012 Olympics).

    The 2014 is the next chance the world will have to watch all of the greatest players mix with their counterparts from around the rest of the globe as all countries descend upon Brazil.

    It looks set to be a fantastic tournament already, with Brazil known for their carnival spirit, not to mention incredible footballing ability.

    So, looking ahead to the tournament, here are the top 10 favourites for the title at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

    (All odds are provided by SkyBet and are correct as of 6th April 2011)

Brazil

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    2010 World Cup: Quarter Finals

    Odds: 7/2

    Reason: The home favourites, Brazil was always going to be the bookmakers choice going into the tournament with such a talented young team and their home support behind them.

    The nation performed disappointingly at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with Dunga employing an unusual defensive approach to the Brazil's game.

    Following his departure after the tournament though, the nation appointed Mano Menezes as the new Brazil coach, and he has already turned the team into a flair-filled attacking force again.

    Whether they will be ready in time to win the World Cup on home soil or not is unknown yet, but the squad is definitely one to watch for the future.

Argentina

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    2010 World Cup: Quarter Finals

    Odds: 11/2

    Reason: Perhaps a surprise choice ahead of both Spain and Germany, but Argentina can never be discounted when they have the likes of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria on their squad.

    Despite being another disappointing South American team at last year's World Cup, they have since replaced Diego Maradona as coach and started rebuilding for 2014.

    The nation have failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympic games, despite having won the last two titles, although with such a strong history of world class players, this shouldn't bother them too much.

    With the Copa America coming up this summer, fans will be able to get a good view of just how well Argentina is developing since their World Cup Quarter Finals exit.

Spain

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    2010 World Cup: Champions

    Odds: 6/1

    Reason: The current World Cup holders and one of the finest international sides the world has seen, Spain was always going to be one of the favourites to grab the title in 2014.

    While key players such as Xavi and David Villa may be past their prime in 2014, the nation's youth is equally impressive, with Barcelona's "La Masia" academy leading the way in producing future talent.

    At 6/1, it would be foolish to bet against a Spain side that has dominated international football over recent years.

    The country is already a favourite to retain their European Championship crown and look well prepared ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

Germany

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    Joern Pollex/Getty Images

    2010 World Cup: Third place

    Odds: 12/1

    Reason: One of the most efficient and ruthless nations in the history of international football, Germany will always be one of the favourites before any major competition, given their past record.

    Arguably the most consistent of all European nations, Germany has a very strong youth team, as they played the third youngest squad in the 2010 World Cup.

    The country will always be able to rely on their ability to take penalties, having not lost a shootout since the very first time one was played in a major tournament.

    It will come as a blow to the team that Miroslav Klose will be all but retired by 2014, but with yougnsters like Thomas Muller coming through, it would be foolish to write them off.

Holland

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    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    2010 World Cup: Runners up

    Odds: 12/1

    Reason: Apart from their disappointing performance in the World Cup final, Holland was actually very good at the 2010 World Cup, which is evident in their second place finish.

    They are, however, the nation to have been to the most World Cup finals without winning, having been on the losing side three times.

    Perhaps 2014 will be the year to change all of that, although the nation will have to compete with very strong youth teams coming up from their rivals.

    Despite Holland's gradually ageing stars, they may be in for one last good shot at the World Cup trophy before having to rebuild fully.

England

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    2010 World Cup: Round of 16

    Odds: 16/1

    Reason: England took their oldest team ever to the World Cup in 2010, and with their squad that had an older average age than anyone else in the competition, they performed very disappointingly and disappeared in the Round of 16.

    The nation has gradually improved again since that disaster, with Fabio Capello employing a new tactical system including some younger stars such as Ashley Young, Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere.

    On paper, it would be hard to write off the country winning the trophy for the second time in their history, although in reality the media expectation every four years from the nation could again prove to be their downfall.

    Either way, it will be interesting to see if they can improve on last year's showing.

France

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    2010 World Cup: Group stage

    Odds: 20/1

    Reason: Despite their disastrous performance at the 2010 World Cup, France has a very strong group of youngsters that have shown their value over the course of the past year.

    With the largely disliked coach Raymond Domenech out of the manager's post and French legend Laurent Blanc coming in, the nation has been revived to the ranks of true competitors again.

    France is now a renewed team looking to make an impact on next year's European Championships before preparing for the 2014 World Cup.

    While they may not be able to beat the likes of Brazil and Spain, France will still have a good chance of a decent run at the 2014 World Cup.

Italy

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    2010 World Cup: Group stage

    Odds: 20/1

    Reason: The four-time World Cup winners would equal Brazil's record were they to win the tournament in 2014, which would not please the home crowd.

    Having won the World Cup in 2006, Italy then went out in the group stage of 2010, finishing behind New Zealand, Slovakia and Paraguay.

    Despite their poor performance, their is no reason that Italy can't set themselves back on the road to the World Cup Final in time for 2014, as they've done so many times in their past.

    They still have a enough talented players on their squad to compete with the best, and with youngsters like Mario Balotelli coming up, only a fool would write them off.

Portugal

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    Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

    2010 World Cup: Round of 16

    Odds: 25/1

    Reason: Another country never to have won a World Cup, but usually with a very good team, Portugal should again be in the mix in 2014.

    The team will no doubt have a boost in the fact that the language is the same in Brazil, and with their nearest rivals Spain having won their first World Cup last time around, Portugal will be more motivated than ever to do so in 2014.

    The country has never proven themselves as a great qualifying team for major tournaments, and so perhaps their current campaign to qualify for Euro 2012 is slightly deceiving.

    There can be no doubts as to the nation's talent, producing stars such as Raul Meireles and Cristiano Ronaldo, but they appear to be fair odds for a nation that has never been further than the third place playoff.

Uruguay

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    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    2010 World Cup: Fourth Place

    Odds: 40/1

    Reason: The hosts and winners of the very first World Cup all the way back in 1930, Uruguay made a good run to the third place playoff last year, despite their controversial Quarter Final against Ghana.

    The country looks unlikely to repeat their two World Cup triumphs, although they do have some talented youngsters.

    Luis Suarez already made a name for himself during last year's tournament, while Edinson Cavani has also been turning a few heads with his performances in Serie A lately.

    While they may be the dark horses for the 2014 competition, they shouldn't be written off as the tournament is hosted in their home continent for the first time since Argentina, 1978.

Underdogs

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    Russia - 40/1 - Perhaps a surprise addition, considering they failed to qualify for the 2010 tournament, but Russia has a very strong team and will be looking to prepare ahead of their home World Cup in 2018.

    Mexico - 50/1 - One of the dark horses at almost every World Cup tournament, it is easy to forget just how strong the Mexican national team is.

    Paraguay - 50/1 - After some good performances in the 2010 World Cup, bookmakers have offered shorter odds on Paraguay becoming the fourth South American nation to win a World Cup.

    USA - 50/1 - A rapidly developing team, USA has been performing strongly over the last few World Cup tournaments and have a solid youth team coming through as well.

    Chile - 50/1 - Like Paraguay, Chile had a good showing at the 2010 World Cup and proved that Argentina and Brazil aren't the only flair-filled South American countries.

    Ghana - 66/1 - A fan favourite at the 2010 World Cup, Ghana are the favourites to become the first African nation to win a World Cup, and with a young talented squad, they could be in for a surprising run in 2014.

    Ivory Coast - 66/1 - Largely regarded as the strongest African nation before the 2010 World Cup, they may have slipped behind Ghana, but their squad is still particularly strong.

    Australia - 66/1 - Despite missing out on the knockout rounds of the 2010 tournament, Australia has proven themselves a nation deserving of a regular World Cup place and they have a good youth with youngsters such as Tommy Oar coming through.

    Japan - 66/1 - Another one of the World Cup nations who are deserving of their regular place in the tournament finals, Japan currently holds the crown of Unofficial World Champions.

    Serbia - 66/1 - Having only played in the 2010 World Cup as an independent nation, Serbia has proven themselves tough competitors to even the biggest teams in World Football.