World Cup 2014 – Beyond Brazil and Argentina

Much of the talk in the lead-up to this summer’s FIFA World Cup Finals in Brazil has been of the host nation; a team with the prodigious talents of Neymar at their head and the brilliant manager Scolari masterminding the operation. The hosts are the bookmakers’ favourites to win the championship, and whilst Germany, Spain and possibly Belgium are expected to mount a strong challenge from Europe, the main competition is expected to come from Brazil’s fellow South American footballing super-power Argentina, who can boast the peerless abilities of the footballer of a generation Lionel Messi and the ever-growing menace of Sergio Aguero as aspects of their attacking threat.

Despite all the talk of Brazil and Argentina as the key contenders for international football’s biggest prize this summer, there are in fact a number of other sides from Latin America who will be striking fear into the hearts of their opponents from all corners of the globe at the World Cup, with football in their veins and minus the baggage of adapting to an unfamiliar climate; a sure obstacle to the progress of many sides from the Northern Hemisphere…

Uruguay – The Uruguayans are the South American champions for good reasons, and impressed by reaching the semi-finals in 2010. Uruguay haven’t won a World Cup since 1950, but with a growing consistency and the world-beating talents of Luis Suarez spear-heading their attack, there’s a growing belief that this footballing nation is transforming from ‘best of the rest’ material into a serious contender.

Chile – Another South American team who were thoroughly impressive in the South African World Cup of 2010 was Chile, who showed immense spirit, courage and – most importantly – skill in advancing to the knock-out stages. The Chileans are in with a good chance of repeating the achievement this summer; with Barcelona striker Alexis Sanchez up front, you’d hate to bet against them…

Columbia – Radamel Falcao’s side has never made it past the last 16 of a World Cup Finals, but in defeating top opposition including Belgium of late, they have proven their ability to excel at a very high level. Their lethal brand of counter-attacking football makes them wild-cards to progress deep into this summer’s tournament.

Ecuador – The football-mad nation of Ecuador didn’t even make it to the World Cup Finals last time around, so we can expect maximum effort at the very least from this little-fancied side.