Mata: England are World Cup contenders

The Chelsea star says that the Three Lions' squad is brimming with top talent and believes that the secret to Spain's recent successes has been unity on and off the field
Chelsea and Spain star Juan Mata believes that England are one of the favourites to win next summer's World Cup.

The Three Lions were unbeaten in their qualification campaign, finishing top of Group H, while only Netherlands and Germany scored more goals and the midfielder, who is back in his national squad for the first time since July after returning to favour at Stamford Bridge, expects Roy Hodgson's men to be a force in Brazil.

"The English team is really very good," the 25-year-old told Metro. "They have many players from the top teams in England and in Europe so, for me, the England team is going to be a contender for the title in big tournaments."

However, Hodgson's side are not the only one that Mata fears. "For me, Brazil have a great, great squad with young players," he added. "They beat us in the Confederations Cup last summer.

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"Italy, too, are going to really fight with us for the title."

Mata was not picked by Vicente del Bosque for recent matches against Ecuador, Finland and Chile but returns to the fold with La Roja for friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa.

The former Valencia man is delighted to back in the sqiad and is eager to tie down a permanent place ahead of the World Cup, while explaining that the squad's bond on and off the field is the "secret" to their success.

"Talking about our national team, Spain, to be honest, it's going to be very special for me to be there," Mata continued. "I feel so lucky to be training with such a team because we know each other really well.

"Playing in the World Cup is the greatest experience for any player. I had the opportunity to play in South Africa and win our country's first ever World Cup so it will be fantastic to be part of that team again.

"We are facing a big challenge: To be world champions again and keep writing history and it will be a dream come true to play and win a World Cup and in Brazil, a country that loves football.

"We know how to play because we are friends off the pitch, it's very important. If you are a team that wants to win you have to be like a family. I think that’s what we are in the Spanish team. Probably that's one of the secrets that the Spanish have."