The 2014 World Cup is just days away and soccer fans across the globe are eagerly awaiting all the exciting on-field action that the tournament will bring, according to a June 2 report from MLSsoccer.com. Spanning from June 12 until July 13, the event features 32 teams from all over the world, broken up into eight groups of four.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the next round, a single-elimination stage to determine the top contenders in the tournament. While over two dozen squads from around the world will be vying for the championship, only eight or nine teams have realistic chances of winning it all.
Spain, the defending champion, is expected to be in the mix, but their roster hasn't turned over much from their last World Cup appearance. While Vicente Del Bosque still has a talented bunch of athletes to work with, their bodies have aged four years since the last World Cup and their decade of dominance may be close to over.
With the window closing for Andres Iniesta and company, time will tell if Spain has enough left in the tank to notch its fourth major international trophy and second World Cup championship in a row.
Besides Spain, Brazil is easily the favorite to win it all at the 2014 World Cup. Brazil, a five-time World Cup champion, will enjoy a distinct home-field advantage, along with a fantastically talented roster that includes Neymar. A 22-year-old phenom who plays forward for FC Barcelona, Neymar gives Brazil a great chance against any opponent. Neyman can score in bunches, and he's tough to contain.
Other teams that could legitimately win the 2014 World Cup include Germany, Argentina, Mexico and Italy. However, Belgium is a team many soccer fans are sleeping on as a contender to win. Belgium takes on South Korea, Russia, and Algeria in a very weak Group H to open the tournament, so they shouldn't have much of a tough time advancing to the elimination round.
Can this dark horse make some real noise at the 2014 World Cup? Belgium will likely make the round of 16, but talent can only take them so far. They'll be matched up with perennial contenders such as England, Spain and Brazil, so Belgium's lack of experience in the big show could possibly hurt their shot at winning. Belgium clearly lacks experience, as they haven't reached a major tournament since the World Cup in 2002.
Elsewhere, France is another top team to watch, mostly because Group E is one of the tournament's easiest to win. France should have a smooth ride advancing to the round of 16, as they face the very beatable Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras in the opening round.
ESPN and ESPN2 will be showing most of the World Cup matches, 54 in total. The other 10 games, including the World Cup final, air on ABC.