I should have guessed that a casual meal at Santiago Tapas Bar in Melbourne would end in a passionate conversation about the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The wine seemed to complement the barrage of opinions on this year's teams and the contenders for the trophy. Everyone had their own opinion. Based on the FIFA world rankings ahead of the World Cup, Spain is leading the way. There's Germany and Brazil in 2nd and 3rd respectively, with Portugal in 4th and Argentina in 5th. After several bottles of vino we still couldn't come to any consensus. So here's our list of favorite teams to win the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Feel free to share your favorites and support your national team.
Fans cheer in celebration of a goal by Neymar of Brazil (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) / Photo courtesy of FIFA
The Brazil team is a favorite to win for several reasons. They have strong squad of world-class offensive players like Neymar, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Hulk, Dani Alves and Paulinho; the other teams may crumble to the local heat and humidity; and with 150 million Brazilians cheering their team, the force may just be with them all the way to the 2014 FIFA World Cup trophy.
Argentina's footballers celebrate (AFP PHOTO/Johan ORDONEZ) / Photo courtesy of FIFA
Argentina hasn't won the World Cup since their victory at Mexico 1986. However they seem to be the dark horse of the 2014 World Cup. With formidable players like Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero and Ángel di María in their squad, many people believe they will out score everyone and go all the way to the finals.
Netherlands' forward Arjen Robben (C) celebrates scoring a goal (AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER) / Photo courtesy of FIFA
The runner up in the 2010 World Cup has skipper Robin van Persie and Arjen who were robbed of victory then and certainly back in 2014 with a vengeance. More relevant is the 13 June World Cup Group B opener where Netherlands thrashed the world champion, Spain, 5 to 1. More Heineken anyone?
Mario Balotelli of Italy during a training session (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images) / Photo courtesy of FIFA
Italy is close on the heels of Spain and Germany as demonstrated recently in the confederations cup and in the Euros. They have fielded an amazing group of young and veteran players like Balotelli, Rossi, Verratti, Pirlo and de Rossi for the 2014 World Cup. Yet the Italian squad remains on the favourites' fence because they are not easy to predict. Maybe therein lies the secret of their probable win.
Belgium's national football team posed with (C-L) Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Princess Eleonore, Prince Emmanuel, Crown Princess Elisabeth, King Philippe - Filip of Belgium and Prince Gabriel (AFP PHOTO/BELGA/NICOLAS MAETERLINCK) / Photo courtesy of FIFA
Although Belgium failed to qualify for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and FIFA rankings have Belgium at 11th in the world, the squad with young talent like Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Moussa Dembeleis is tipped to do well in Brazil. With some luck at the draw, Belgium may just be the underdog team that makes the win.
Germany squad celebrates (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images) / Photo courtesy of FIFA
Germany seems to be overdue for the Cup according to fans. They are already number 2 in the FIFA world rankings. They have a complete team with attack, defense and goal keeping, and was also undefeated, having won 4 out of their 5 matches in the World Cup qualifiers. We will not be surprised to see the team toasting their trophy in a Munich beer garden after Rio de Janeiro.
Australia line up for a team photo (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) / Photo courtesy of FIFA
Australia is ranked 61 in FIFA's world ranking ahead of the World Cup. It doesn't put the lucky country high up on the winners' list but the underdog is still everyone's favorite back home. While Mile Jedinak and his Socceroos are not good enough in both ability and experience to go for gold this year, the rest of the world recognizes their sporting spirit. And we also applaud the unwavering loyalty of the Australian fans and their Prime Minister.
England celebrates scoring their second goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group H match (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) / Photo courtesy of FIFA
Although England is ranked 10 in the FIFA world rankings leading up to the World Cup, only 4% of England fans think their team will win based on a study of 19 countries by The Upshot. However England is embracing the fearlessness of youth with players like Sterling, Barkley and Sturridge. Maybe with this raw momentum that propels them forward, they can forget about failing and start winning.
Spain celebrates 2010 FIFA World Cup winSpain celebrates 2010 FIFA World Cup win (Photo by Quin Rooney - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) / Photo courtesy of FIFA
As the winners of the past thre major tournaments, Spain is many people's love-and-hate team at the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. The Spanish public would love Spain to win simply because of their love for the game and their team's ability to return, season after season and keep winning. Yet many others hate Spain to win because they've dominated the headlines for too long. A fourth consecutive victory for the reigning champions would allow Spain to lay claim to being the greatest team of all time and cement their place in football history.
I tipped Argentina prior to the first game - but Germany and Netherlands have been the most impressive so far, and I'm keen to see Belgium's form tomorrow...If it can't be us, I'd love to see Belgium win.