So the world cup is in full swing again; four years doesn't seem like such a long time when it comes to sport, does it? Brazil is currently abuzz with fans of round-ball entertainment where people have seen results that no-one could have predicted, as well as victories and defeats that people saw coming a mile off.
The fact that Greece, Nigeria, Algeria, and Switzerland are still contenders is as baffling as Suarez's apparent mid-match hunger that drives him to biting players. Conversely, England's early departure was upsetting to a whole nation, but then again not as surprising as the misplaced faith put in the team by fans who apparently love to deny just how bad their national team really is. Still, we've got a good number of matches still left to play, and after France's 5-2 win over Switzerland, it seems that not all of them will be as predictable as the millions of gamblers in the world would like them to be. So who should be considered the best of the best teams that happen to still be in the world cup? This is our pick of the pack.
Surprise surprise, we still have the mighty Brazil in the tournament, and the average odds for them winning are looking pretty favourable at this stage. Let's also not forget that the country from whence this team hails is also hosting the world cup this year, meaning that every game is a home game for them. Couple these factors with some new talent in the form of Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, Hulk, and the wonderful Thiago Silva, and you've got yourself a pretty formidable team with many external factors also tipping the scales heavily in your favour. So heavily, in fact, that as of the 27th June, the odds given for Brazil emerging victoriously from the tournament were around 3/1.
Still, you cannot look at this particular squad without noticing the glaringly obvious: this particular team hasn't actually been through any major tournament as a whole before. That's right. In spite of grasping the Confederations Cup not too long ago, this Brazil squad haven't played through an entire tournament in this formation, a factor which could very well be their downfall should the time come where team cohesion should be tested to the max. Still, with the home advantage and some dangerous players in the mix, the big money should still be on this team to lift the trophy at the end of the World Cup.
It isn't that surprising that Germany are still going strong in the this world cup. The team is a very dangerous one, and often leads many professional football writers to describe the formation with such adjectives as "deep". Whilst throwaway phrases such as this are almost certainly just nonsense, you cannot deny that Germany's team is one that many football fans would go crazy over on account of the variety of talent available. Names such as Manuel Neuer Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, and Thomas Muller are sure to have opposing teams quaking in their boots before their matches even start, but could lack of cohesion again be the undoing of one of the favourites for this 2014 World Cup?
While it is true that there are formidable players lurking in and around the ranks of Germany's team this year (to the extent that it could be called a fantasy or dream team by many), the main problem that many pundits are highlighting is that of getting the team to work together as a unit and keeping it together when being knocked out seems likely. It is performance under pressure that counts in the World Cup, particularly when you consider that this pressure can scarcely let up over a period of days or even the weeks that contain the entire tournament. 4/1 odds currently fall behind Germany's World Cup effort, which aren't numbers to be taken lightly; this team is formidable, dangerous, and not unlikely to emerge victorious.
This is one of the teams in the tournament that not many would have paid attention to beforehand, but who are now the subject of much attention from fans and foes alike. There's a reason for this attention however: this team have caused quite a bit of upset this year, and not least with their 5-1 victory over once-favourites Spain not too long ago. Who on earth could have seen such a ridiculously unpredictable score coming? Well, perhaps some may have had an inkling when looking at the vibrant youth of the team, which contains players like Adam Maher, who has yet to make a name for himself but has the potential to be a star whose name is on everyone's lips for years to come.
The main criticism that most will hurl in the team's direction is its relative (or collective) age, which is pretty young by anyone's standards. Still, it is this age that has caused many to overlook the team's place in this world cup, a mistake that many like Spain have apparently made and regretted, considering the fact that Spain are no longer in the world cup and the Netherlands certainly are. In fact, the odds for Netherlands are also looking pretty favourable, at around 7/1 at the end of June. Their performance against Mexico was admirable (the late comeback shattered Mexico's dreams into tiny pieces, and they also have a great chance against Costa Rica in this Fifa 2014 World Cup.
Argentina's presence in any "Top 5 Teams" list won't be surprising to 99% of football fans out there; their performance year in year out speaks volumes about the talent and determination of the national team. Looking at the players in the team, it becomes obvious where all of the confidence of the fans comes from. You've got players like Messi, Tevez, Higuain, Di Maria, and many more players that terrify opponents with their raw talent and years of experience. The forwards for the team are often referred to as the "Fantastic Four", with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, and Carlos Tevez making up this quadrilogy of talent that gives this team its attacking edge.
The only weakness that Argentina could be said to suffer from is their defence, but even this Achilles heel has been healed this time around with a reworking of the team's defence and thereby strengthening their position in the tournament to such an extent that this team are among the favourites to win the entire thing.
France seem not to weight on one side or the other when it comes to youth and experience, but instead possess a fantastic mix of both young, fresh players and experienced ones. This mixture is sure to please France fans and also startle opponents who go up against them. You've got the familiar names of Patrice Evra, Eric Abidal, Franck Ribery, and Bacary Sagna, as well as younger players that will have energy and freshness on their side. Other names like Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud bode well for the team as well as goalkeeper Hugo Lloris bringing some serious capability to the front-of-net defence, and all of this equating to a team that has at least as much potential as its rivals, if not more so.