Owen: Argentina World Cup favourites

The former England international believes the likes of Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi could make the difference for La Albiceleste in Brazil

Michael Owen has tipped Argentina as favourites to win the World Cup this summer.

Argentina have won the tournament twice before - in 1978 and 1986 - but they have failed to make it past the quarter-finals since losing to West Germany in the 1990 final in Italy.

Alejandro Sabella's side have been drawn in Group F, widely seen as one of the more favourable groups, alongside debutants Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria and Iran.

Owen, who represented England at three World Cups, in 1998, 2002 and 2006, believes Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi will help inspire Argentina to success in their home continent.

"They have good players throughout the team, but Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi just tip it [for me]," Owen said on Sportlobster.com.

"It will be extremely difficult to stop these two players from scoring. Argentina are more or less in their own backyard and they are used to the altitude and weather.

"The team have some defensive concerns, but Argentineans are typically streetwise.

"I honestly believe they have more quality than the other nations."

Owen has also thrown his support behind Japan to surprise the world at the showpiece event.

Alberto Zaccheroni's men have been pitted against Colombia, Greece and Ivory Coast in Group C and are viewed as a dark horse for the World Cup, with many - including Owen - believing Japan could replicate South Korea's run at the 2002 tournament, which saw them reach the semi-finals.

"I believe Japan will have a good tournament," said Owen.

"They have an average World Cup group, one or two top class players, they performed well in the Olympics and are always extremely fit.

"I don't think they will progress to the semi-finals but the quarters are a possibility."