Chile danger for Brazil
Sky Sports presenter Ed Chamberlin previews the World Cup and thinks hosts Brazil will have to watch out for Chile.
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Sky Bet's outright World Cup odds: Brazil 11/4, Argentina 9/2, Germany 11/2, Spain 6/1, Belgium 18/1, Portugal 22/1, France 22/1, England 25/1, Colombia 25/1, Italy 25/1 bar
Yet again the build-up to a major sporting event is dominated by talk of unrest, poor infrastructure and facilities that aren't going to be ready in time.
Usually the scare stories are unfounded and the London Olympics is the perfect example of an event that proved the critics wrong.
However, Brazil 2014 seems like a different kettle of fish. If this football-mad country is not relishing hosting the greatest show in football, there must a serious problem.
I sense that never before has it been so important for the home nation to perform well, than it is for Brazil to excel at this World Cup. If the team does well then all the problems will be forgotten and the country will surely unite behind their boys.
If Neymar and his team-mates flop then all the political issues and unhappiness will come to the surface.
South Africa was dogged by similar issues before the 2010 World Cup and are now lumbered with problems in a number of cities, just as Brazil will be when the FIFA circus leaves town.
South Africa still succeeded in getting the people to unite behind a tournament that they felt was putting their country on the international map. The event became a celebration for the people. The Brazilian public need to do the same and get behind their team.
The home nation went out at the first hurdle four years. Brazil can't afford a similar fate or the World Cup could develop in to a shambles.
I was in South Africa working for Sky Sports News for the duration of the tournament, which was a memorable experience but the football was largely disappointing. Too many matches were marred by negativity. Too many teams scared to lose.
Taking my family to England v Algeria at the Cape Town Stadium still haunts me four years on and remains the most boring game I have ever seen.
The final at Soccer City summed the tournament up. It was a magnificent occasion but sadly an awful match. It was made worse by having backed the Netherlands ante-post in this column.
Who are the best bets four years on?
Brazil have to perform and I think they will. Sky Bet have a special offer - money back if Brazil win the World Cup - which is very attractive.
Often the side with the best attack dominates the early stages of a tournament but the team with the best defence lifts the trophy.
Brazil have the best back four by a distance. As we have discussed often on Monday Night Football, David Luiz can be a liability for his club but he is a colossus for his country.
Alongside him is in my view the best defender in world football, Thiago Silva. The two full-backs are amongst the best in the business too. Dani Alves is on the right and Marcelo, who changed the game when he came on in the Champions League Final, operates down the left. That is some unit.
In front of them there is quality everywhere, though Oscar and Neymar need to fire, which they did only sporadically for their clubs, if Brazil are to win it.
"People are opposing Brazil by saying they won't be able to handle the intense pressure. When you look at the big names in their squad, I expect them to thrive on it as they did when winning the Confederations Cup."
The only things that put me off backing Brazil is a potential nightmare draw in the last 16. I fancy Chile to get out of Group B and they will be a really tough team to get past.
Spain are the obvious team to back at 6/1 with Sky Bet with their money back offer on Brazil. I don’t know why Argentina and Germany are a shorter price than the defending champions?
Win a fourth consecutive big tournament and they will surely be the greatest international team of all time but have they got one last hurrah in them?
Spain have the best squad at the tournament. In the testing conditions, it will be impossible to field the same team for every game and strength in depth will be vital.
I fully expect, in a tournament where possession will be all-important in the heat, the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta to excel yet again.
"Spain will need to defend better and much will depend on the fitness of Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa. He gives them the cutting edge and goalscoring threat that they have previously lacked."
So Brazil have the best defence, Spain the best squad and it's Argentina who have the most potent attack.
If Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero both fire then everyone is in trouble.
I can easily see Argentina making a blistering start and trading as favourites during the group stage, as they have done in the past, but coming unstuck in the pressure cooker knockout stage.
Their fragile back four makes them opposable, while they will also have to overcome the hostility they are likely to face at every stadium.
Brazilians will certainly not want Argentina winning 'their' World Cup.
Get ready for the clichés about Germany always being a threat at a major tournament.
They have an excellent side again but I just wonder if they have the quality of central defenders and in attack to get them through the close scrapes in the knockout phase. I'm amazed they are a shorter price in the outright market than Spain.
Of the others, the Netherlands were my selection four years ago but are a team to oppose this time around.
Don't forget we're offering money back on all outright World Cup bets if Brazil win it!
They lack experience and will be reliant on Robin van Persie, who has questions to answer about form and fitness after the Premier League campaign.
Belgium have been the fashionable tip for a while but are too short now at 18/1 with a few of their top players are struggling for form.
Portugal have the perfect football specimen in their side, but Cristiano Ronaldo can't win it on his own and the rest of the team aren't good enough.
Like Chile, Colombia are interesting runners but the value in their price is long gone.
France were a shambles four years ago but are now rapidly improving. However, I'd be amazed if they were good enough to win a South American World Cup. I reckon a quarter-final place would signify a fine World Cup for Roy Hodgson and England.
Such fine margins will decide the World Cup winners. In seven World Cups in the Americas, Brazil have won three and made five semi-finals. Their superb back four could be the key factor this year and if Neymar and co fire then they are definitely in business.
With Sky Bet offering money back if Brazil win I also can't resist a few quid on their likely last 16 opponents Chile at 50/1.