My own amateur opinion:
There will be tremendous pressure on Brazil: anything less than world cup champions will be seen as a failure. I don't think the team has the leadership, character, and composure to deal with that pressure, so I predict a loss in the quarterfinals or semifinals. I am probably wrong, but that is my hunch.
Spain will be tough, but I think their time has passed. Their core is four years older, with some (Pujols) retired. I think they too will lose in the quarters or semifinals.
Germany will be very tough. They are my pick to win it all. They have an excellent coach, and a veteran core. However, they do have injury questions (Lahm, Sweinsteiger, etc.). If the injuries are an issue, it could prevent them from even advancing out of the group stage. They are in a very tough group.
My dark horse team? France. They went home with their tails between their legs in 2010.
They are talented and hungry.
Second dark horse? Argentina. They are talented and due.
So, my choices: #1 Germany, #2 France, #3 Argentina, #4 Brazil
Germany has alot of injuries, Neuer one of the best goalies in the world won't make it, no Mario gomez who has been their go to man in the attack for several years.
Also no Schweinsteiger and possibly without their best defenseman lahm. Ghana and Portugal might upset them in the group stages , and if they do make it Russia or Belgium might await them.
As for France there are teams with alot more talent and they are just lazy , they have no spirit to play for their country.
My top 3 is Spain, Brazil, Argentina ( messi is not in shape but team will do well regardless).
After that Germany, Russia, Ghana,Colombia, ( with falcao, currently still recovering from knee injury) and Portugal our my outsiders.
Dark horse is Ghana for me, clearly the best african team.
As for Belgium, we have good players, but the friendlies against Japan and Colombia dented my confidence, they don't have any experience on World cup stage.
And with Christian Benteke out, allthough he isn't an attacker that is known for his goal scoring, but allows our midfield to do so, I think we'll have a rough time scoring goals.
Edited by Heimdall, 25 May 2014 - 12:11 AM.