Ahead of the World Cup, an ESPN FC panel featuring Shaka Hislop, Steve Nicol, Michael Cox and Iain Macintosh have put their heads together to formulate a top 10 of countries that will compete in Brazil next year.
Meanwhile, check out Adrian Melville's rankings audit on ESPN Insider .
|WORLD CUP POWER RANKINGS: DECEMBER 24|
|1 (N/A)||Brazil||The World Cup hosts are resurgent after Luiz Felipe Scolari turned a sputtering, friendly-dominated warm-up into an all-conquering Confederations Cup triumph. How much does momentum matter? Brazil may be about to show us.|
|2 (N/A)||Spain||Does an exhausting schedule plus age catching up to key players (the man who lifted the World Cup in 2010 can't get in his club side) = no-hopers? No chance. In major tournaments, their recent record is without parallel. Count them out at your peril.|
|3 (N/A)||Argentina||If you can't win at home, where better to lift the World Cup than in the land of your fiercest rivals? Argentina head to Brazil with a legitimate chance to do just that. Few sides will boast more potent attacks, although their defence must convince.|
|4 (N/A)||Germany||Are they the nearly men of the international game? In major tournaments since hosting the 2006 World Cup, Germany have reached three semifinals and one final, which they lost. Jogi Loew's men have the talent to win it all, but is that enough?|
|5 (N/A)||Italy||After a miserable defence of their crown in 2010, Italy have improved with a new generation coming to the fore, ably assisted by some layovers from the glory days of 2006. Mario Balotelli has the potential to carry the Azzurri in Brazil, if he behaves.|
|6 (N/A)||Colombia||Many believe that South American countries will excel on their own continent. Of course, boasting a forward of Radamel Falcao's quality helps, too! There's much more to Colombia than the Monaco man, though, and Jose Pekerman's side looks winnable.|
|7 (N/A)||Belgium||If everyone tips you as an outsider capable of making a deep run, does that status become void? In any case, Belgium will boast arguably as talented a squad as any other in the tournament. The question is, will inexperience at this level count against the|
|8 (N/A)||Netherlands||A run to the 2010 final was followed by a poor Euro 2012 showing. Two years later, what should we expect? Their stars are getting old, and a group featuring Spain, Chile and Australia is tough. However, the Dutch's ability always makes them dangerous.|
|9 (N/A)||Chile||Since coming third as hosts in 1962, Chile have struggled to make an impact at the World Cup. Although their group is difficult, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, the latest version of La Roja could make noise next year.|
|10 (N/A)||Uruguay||Semifinalists in South Africa, Uruguay have since won the 2011 Copa America and were unlucky to lose to Brazil in the last four of the Confederations Cup. Luis Suarez is as potent an attacking force as there is, while Edinson Cavani is not bad, either.|