Weather (heat and humidity) and travel (distance and time zones) will be a major factor in which team ultimately proves successful, so the advantage is with the six South American countries. Spain's possession game is the best equipped of the European countries to deal with the demands of a month long tournament with the likes of Portugal, Croatia, and Germany not far behind.
The United States must travel approximately 11,000 miles in 10 days to play their three games. Belgium, in comparison will only travel 435 miles; therefore, the odds are stacked against the US surviving the toughest group in Brazil.
The US can qualify, but must get a result in their first game versus Ghana. If they lose they will have no chance of qualifying for the second phase. The most important player for the Americans will be goalkeeper, Tim Howard, who will be relied upon to shut out Germany and Portugal, two of the very best teams in the world as well as Ghana.
The marketing people will have you believe that the World Cup is all about Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Wayne Rooney. Other players to watch out for include Luka Modric (Croatia), Eden Hazard (Belgium) and Sergio Aguero (Argentina). The World Cup has a history of making an international superstar of previously unknown players outside of their home countries. Who will be the next Mario Kempes, Paolo Rossi, Gary Lineker, or Toto Schillaci?
Colombia, England, Italy, France, Croatia, Ghana, Portugal, and Belgium can make the semi-finals, but will need the luck of the draw to advance to the last four.
Teams which have a scorer hit form in the latter stages of the tournament can win the World Cup, but do not discount the importance of a strong defense also elevating a team to glory. Is there a better back five than Belgium’s Courtois-Alderweireld-Kompany-Vermaelen-Vertonghen in the tournament? Could it catapult the Red Devils to the last four?
Teams with the potential to cause a surprise result are Japan, Greece, and Iran, where nationalistic pride can help elevate inferior players to become national heroes.
Australia, Costa Rica, Honduras, South Korea and Algeria have no chance of advancing past the round of 16.