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The former midfielder believes the reigning champions, Joachim Low's side and tournament hosts Brazil are the favourites to claim the World Cup this summer

Michael Ballack believes Germany and Spain are on "another level" to most international sides and will by vying for the World Cup this summer alongside hosts Brazil.

La Roja head to South America as the reigning world and double European champions, while Germany are considered favourites by many to end their 24-year wait for the global title.

Ballack believes the talent at Joachim Low's disposal makes Germany a standout candidate for glory this summer, but believes there are a handful of sides who will be challenging for the prize - including the hosts.

"They've had a few difficult years with the national team recently, there's no doubt of that: so much is always expected of Brazil teams. But at the Confederations Cup, they proved what they can produce at home. That's why they're one of the favourites for the trophy," the former Bayern Munich and Chelsea midfielder told Fifa.com.

"It's tough for anyone to be successful in South America. No European country has won a World Cup there and it's not going to be any easier for the European teams these days either. Along with Spain, though, Germany are a team on another level from most others. We'll have to wait and see if they can prove that again, but the talent is most definitely there.
 
"I'm just as excited to see how the other contenders perform, but Germany certainly deserve to be counted among the favourites.

"I'd also say Italy, a team that Germany always have problems against. With France, you'd have to see how they've come on by the start of the tournament, as they struggled in qualification. But South American countries like Argentina or Chile could also cause a surprise, as they're comfortable playing there and will feel like they're playing at home."

Ballack picked up a yellow card in the semi-final of World Cup 2002, meaning he missed the last time Germany reached the final of the tournament, and he admits the disappointment of the suspension was tough to take.

"When something like that happens, it's like you immediately have tunnel vision, like you can't quite process what's happened," he said. "You're obviously disappointed, but I celebrated with the rest of the team and I wanted them to win the final. It only dawns on you weeks, months or even years later, when you realise just how difficult it is to reach a World Cup final. If you don't play in a game like that, then you realise what you've missed out on.

"It was really bad luck for me, no question, but that's the nature of football. You have to be professional enough to be able to accept it, but at the moment when it happened, it was very tough to take."

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