Dani Alves: Spain is the World Cup favorite

The Brazil defender says the reigning champions remain the team to beat, despite his own countrymen being hotly tipped to succeed on home soil
Brazil international Dani Alves says Spain is the favorite to claim glory at this summer's World Cup in his homeland.

The tournament's hosts have been widely tipped to succeed on home soil, but Alves believes the reigning global and European champions remain the team to beat.

"The ones defending the title are Spain, and they are the main favorite," the 31-year-old told reporters. "I like them.

"I admire Germany also, they have lots of very good players. Argentina have an amazing attack. And Brazil. I'd put us up there because we're playing at home. The people are with the national team, and the national team are with the people."

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Alves also talked about his feelings concerning Sweden international and former Barcelona teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who, after his side failed to qualify for the tournament, claimed it would be "nothing" without him.

"I was in a campaign for Ibra to come to Brazil," said the defender. "He's very peculiar... I have a special fondness for him. Unfortunately his team didn't make it, but he is surely invited to come over.

"Maybe if Ibra invites me to dinner and to travel with him I would say yes. I invited him to come to the World Cup. But the moment now is for the national team, the World Cup and for that beautiful trophy to come to us."

Alves also talked about the importance of a good start in the World Cup - with his team opening the tournament on Thursday against Croatia.

"Starting in a World Cup is always complicated, hard and important," said Alves. "When you start well... The rest of the competitors are watching. I think it's the most important match in a World Cup, along with the final.

"If I could pick a final, it would be Brazil against Argentina. I think would be a nice and historic final. Beating our most historic rival would leave a special taste."