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Goal pundits from around the world ranked all teams in Brazil 2014 from 1 to 32. Here is their view of the participants

For a long time Spain was considered the top favorite to win its second World Cup in a row in Brazil. La Roja’s domination from 2008 to 2012, with their first world title and two European championships, made many believe in the possibility of seeing back-to-back titles for the first time since Brazil accomplished it in 1958 and 1962.

Not anymore. 

Goal pundits from around the world have ranked all participants in Brazil 2014 from 1 to 32 and as a result we have the hosts, Argentina and Germany as top contenders.

Here are the Opening Day's Goal World Cup Power Rankings. 

#1  BRAZIL
 
Before Luiz Felipe Scolari's second coming and before the Confederations Cup triumph in 2013, Brazil was struggling to find its best team. That all changed and it's going to take something very special from any team that dares to take this trophy out of their hands in their own backyard. ::: Sebastian Garcia

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#2  ARGENTINA
 
Arguably the best striking force in World football, Argentina has quietly arrived without conceding a single goal in almost 500 minutes of football. A handy World Cup draw could boost the Albicelestes' chances in Brazil. ::: Sebastian Garcia

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#3  GERMANY
 
Die Mannschaft presents a side with plenty of mazing midfielders, but I don't trust in Boateng and Mertesacker as defenders. And the loss of Reus will be a great one. ::: Luiz Alberto Moura

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#4  SPAIN
With some key players already past their prime, especially Xavi and Iker Casillas, plus Diego Costa's struggles to regain his best form after an injury, Spain could have a tough time defending the title. ::: Luis Herrera
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#5  ITALY
As usual, it's tough to predict what to expect of La Squadra Azzurra. They can never be ruled out of title contention, but with a very tough group they can't also be ruled out of going home early like four years ago. ::: Luis Herrera 
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#6  FRANCE
Les Bleus will have a good tournament regardless of the injuries. Many French players are playing in the big leagues and have the experience required to upset the big names in Brazil 2014. ::: Hocine Harzoune
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#7  NETHERLANDS
Name by name, Netherlands can compete with anyone in the tournament. Unfortunately for them, the same can be said of Spain and Chile, their group partners. There will be no margin for error in the Group B. ::: Luis Herrera
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#8  PORTUGAL
Much will depend on the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo, but even fully fit, is he capable of dragging the team into the latter stages single-handedly? ::: Iain Strachan
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#9  URUGUAY
The Ghost of the Maracanazo of 1950 has traveled with them. Brazil fans are terrified of this dark horse. Semifinalist in South Africa, Uruguay's chances could be damaged by the fact it has  Italy and England in a Group D that totals seven World Cup titles between the three. ::: Sebastian Garcia
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#10  BELGIUM
Considered dark horses by many observers due to their abundance of talent, including Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, but could struggle to live up to that billing due to their inexperience on the big stage. ::: Iain Strachan
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#11  ENGLAND

England has an interesting blend of experience and raw talent but to get out of a tricky group, Roy Hodgson needs to place his faith in his young players for creativity in attack. ::: Chris Davie

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#12  COLOMBIA

Losing Falcao was a bitter blow for Colombia, but they have plenty of options in attack. A great World Cup Qualifying campaign set the tone for what should be a tournament that sees them advance from the group stage after failing to qualify for a World Cup since 1998. ::: Sebastian Garcia

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#13  CHILE

Doubts over star Arturo Vidal's fitness have caused concerns for Chile. If he's ready to go and Alexis Sanchez continues to shine, Chile could surprise a few by getting out of a brutal Group B they share with the last two World Cup finalists: Spain and Netherlands. ::: Sebastian Garcia

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#14  CROATIA

Face a tough opening game against hosts Brazil but are capable of getting out of their group. Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic, the latter suspended for the first match, will be crucial. ::: Iain Strachan

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#15  JAPAN

Japan may not have much defending to speak of but with their attack they're more than capable of surprising expectations and reaching the knockout stage. ::: Dan Orlowitz

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#16  IVORY COAST

With stars Didier Drogba, Kolo Touré and Yayá Touré already past their 30's, it seems Ivory Coast window to make a big statement in World Football has already passed. ::: Luis Herrera

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#17  SWITZERLAND

The Swiss, ranked a surprising sixth in the world, cruised through their qualification campaign - albeit against lesser opponents - and could sneak through to the Round of 16 by finishing second. ::: Teng Kiat

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#18  GHANA

Africa's best side in the World Cups played in this century, Ghana had its toughest challenge in the Group of Death with Germany, Portugal and United States. ::: Luis Herrera

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#19  RUSSIA

Might not be one of the most glamorous sides but Russia topped their qualification group ahead of Portugal and will fancy their chances in a relatively even group. ::: Teng Kiat

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#20  MEXICO

After a disastrous 2013, El Tri's chances of reaching the World Cup round of 16 for the sixth time in a row don't look so promising, but this is a very talented side filled with many players that won Olympic gold just two years ago. ::: Luis Herrera

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#21  BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

Dzeko and Pjanic are the stars here for Bosnia in their first-ever appearance and they could surprise and finish second in their group. ::: Teng Kiat

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#22  UNITED STATES

The U.S. are better than the rest of the world may believe, but to escape the (second) Group of Death would be a monumental accomplishment. ::: Dan Orlowitz

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#23  SOUTH KOREA

Korea's main strength is their incredible work ethic and team spirit. Ki and Son should lead the way and while Belgium are favourites, the Asians will fancy their chances against Russia and Algeria. ::: Teng Kiat

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#24  NIGERIA

No longer the force that was even mentioned as title contender in the 90's, but the Super Eagles are the current African champions and their group gives them a chance to advance. ::: Luis Herrera

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#25  ECUADOR

The tragic death of charismatic striker Christian "Chucho" Benitez galvanized a team that has become a  World Cup regular. They have enough to beat Honduras and will play all their chances against Switzerland and France. A possible dark horse playing in their continent and used to the weather. ::: Sebastian Garcia

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#26  CAMEROON

Cameroon is not arriving in Brazil with the greatest peace of mind. Les Lions Indomptables had a big dispute with their federation about financial incentives prior to flying to Brazil. Will they be affected by this turn of events? ::: Hocine Harzoune

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#27  GREECE

Having conceded just four times during qualifying and once in their three World Cup warmup games, Greece have few issues at the back but going forward, Fernando Santos’ side lack the firepower to progress far in the tournament. ::: Chris Davie

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#28  HONDURAS

They have experienced players in defense and midfield and some interesting options up front in Jerry Bengtson and Carlo Costly, but what could cost them the most is the fact that they'll have to go head to head with superior teams such as France, Switzerland and Ecuador. ::: Sebastian Garcia

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#29  COSTA RICA

Costa Rica will suffer from a very difficult draw in which they will be favorites to finish bottom. Getting a result against Uruguay sure looks like their only chance to defy the odds and aim for the round of 16. But that'd be highly unlikely for Los Ticos. ::: Sebastian Garcia

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#30  AUSTRALIA

Ange Postecoglou has brought a young squad that may be better-suited for Russia 2018 than being competitive at Brazil 2014. ::: Dan Orlowitz

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#31  IRAN

Carlos Queiroz's side topped their qualifying group ahead of South Korea, but they are likely to find it tough getting out of their group. (Teng Kiat

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#32  ALGERIA

Algeria did not score a single goal in South Africa four years ago. Les Fennecs will find the task equally hard this time around. ::: Hocine Harzoune



THE TEAM OF GOAL PUNDITS 

Sergio Chesi 
Goal Italy - Deputy editor 

Chris Davie
Goal UK - Site manager

Sebastián García
Goal Latin America - Managing editor

Hocine Harzoune
Goal France - Assistant editor

Luis Herrera
Goal Spain - Deputy editor

Teng Kiat
Goal Singapore - Deputy editor

Luiz Alberto Moura
Goal Brazil - Chief editor

Dan Orlowitz
Goal Japan - Assistant editor

Allen Ramsey
Goal USA - Chief editor

Iain Strachan
Goal Australia - Chief editor 

 

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