Argentina are the team to beat, says Cruyff

The 67-year-old has tipped Lionel Messi to lead his side to glory in Brazil, though he has also backed Germany, Italy and holders Spain to do well in the tournament
Former Netherlands international Johan Cruyff believes Argentina are the team to beat at the World Cup.

Brazil remain favourites to emerge victorious on home soil following their Confederations Cup triumph in 2013, but Argentina - led by captain Lionel Messi - have been tipped by the likes of former forward Diego Maradona to challenge for glory this month.

4/1 Argentina are 4/1 with Bet365 to win the World Cup
And 67-year-old Cruyff believes Alejandro Sabella's men could capitalise should Brazil succumb to the pressure of winning a home World Cup, while he has also tipped Spain, Italy and Germany to pose a threat.

"The pressure on the squad is huge," Cruyff wrote in his De Telegraaf column. "They have to watch out for Argentina. I think Spain will also be a good contender and we know that Germany and Italy can grow into the tournament."

Cruyff has also rued the loss of key players at the World Cup who have been forced to miss the tournament because of injury.

Radamel Falcao, Marco Reus and Franck Ribery are the standout absentees, while Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis suarez, Arturo Vidal and Neymar have all been struggling for full fitness prior to their respective opening games.

“A World Cup is longer than a month and costs a lot of energy. I'm not happy to see that players have already been dropped from squads because of injury," Cruyff said.

“We have to wait and see if players like Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal will be ready in time. A team can be okay today and be in trouble tomorrow."

Netherlands have been drawn in Group B alongside current world and European champions Spain, Chile and Australia.

Their first game will be against Spain in Salvador on June 13, before they face Australia in Porto Alegre on June 18 and Chile in Sao Paulo on June 23.