Argentina’s challengers for the trophy
The hosts will start as favourites on their own turf, backed by the brilliant Thiago Silva at the back and a team without weaknesses in any position. Pressure will be intense, however, particularly for young talisman Neymar who had an uneven first season in European football.
The holders and European champions to boot. The attack has been bolstered by Brazil-born Diego Costa, but a lot will depend on an ageing engine-room of Xavi and Xabi Alonso if they are to repeat their triumph.
A young, exciting team who will look to punish opponents on the counter. But the forward line, still held up by veteran Miroslav Klose, could let them down against the competition’s strongest sides. Germany, of course, knocked out Argentina last time around...
The Azzurri are strong at the back as ever, and will hope the Andrea Pirlo-Mario Balotelli partnership can provide the goals they need. A lack of depth could hurt them in the World Cup’s latter stages.