WHICH TEAMS WILL SPRING THE BIGGEST SURPRISE?
It used to be that surprise teams could lay low until the World Cup. FIFA's rankings changed that. Belgium (pictured in black) hasn't played a World Cup since 2002. It's been even longer for Colombia: 1998. Both might be considered dark horses in Brazil were it not for FIFA rankings giving their game away. Based on their results against other teams, they're now among the top 5 football nations. Despite lacking experience, they'll advance easily from group play. From there, a piece of individual brilliance or luck often decides games. In Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, Colombia has a game-changing duo. Behind the playmaking of Eden Hazard, Belgium is a challenger. One or both will reach the semifinals. By Raf Casert in Belgium.
PANEL: Majority — 10 of 14 — agree. "Belgium will have a magnificent team ready for the World Cup — look out for Vertonghen, Hazard and Lukaku!" — Soren-Mikael Hansen, Politiken, Denmark.
DOMENECH: No. Expects Argentina, Brazil and Germany in the semifinals and "for the surprise, I'd always say Italy, my intimate friends."