Soccer World Cup

5 Dark Horse Squads To Survive 2014 World Cup Knockout Stage

2014 World Cup: 5 Dark Horse Squads To Survive The Knockout Stage

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When it comes to favorites for this year's World Cup, names such as Brazil, Spain, Germany and Argentina almost always come up first. There are plenty of other teams that could make some noise, however. Here are five squads that could make deep runs into the knockout stages.

5. Croatia

Croatia National Team
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5. Croatia

Croatia National Team
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Croatia often seems overlooked in soccer, which is perhaps a symptom of being surrounded by perennial World Cup contenders. The Croatians have plenty of power on their own, however, and could make a nice run in Brazil. Midfielder Luka Modric is coming off a tremendous club season with Real Madrid and is joined by proven performers like Mario Mandzukic and Ivica Olic in giving the Croatians a dangerous trio up top.

4. Uruguay

Uruguay National Team
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4. Uruguay

Uruguay National Team
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Uruguay is never an easy out, and the 2014 World Cup doesn’t figure to be the exception. Led by the dynamic striker combination of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, the Uruguayans can put up goals with the very best in the world. Add in the presence of quality midfielders such as Cristian Rodriguez and Gaston Ramirez, not to mention the steadying influence of Diego Godin on the defensive side, and Uruguay bears close watching in Brazil.

3. Portugal

Portgual National Team
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3. Portugal

Portugal National Team
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Considered the second best team in Group G, the Portuguese possess the kind of playmaking and finishing ability to make some serious noise in Brazil. Cristiano Ronaldo, the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year, scored 53 goals this season for Real Madrid and is capable of carrying a team offensively. On defense, Portugal will be carried by veteran Pepe and ever-improving Fabio Coentrao, while Joao Moutinho is a dangerously skilled midfielder.

2. France

France National Team
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2. France

France National Team
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France may be coming into the World Cup ranked only 16th in the most recent FIFA World Rankings, but the French are loaded with quality players and will be looking to make amends for their disastrous showing in South Africa four years ago. With Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Bayern Munich’s Frank Ribery leading the offense, goal-scoring doesn’t figure to be a problem. Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna anchor a veteran defensive corps.

1. Chile

Chile National Team
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1. Chile

Chile National Team
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The Chileans, while often overshadowed by continental rivals Brazil and Argentina, have enough quality to challenge any team at this year’s World Cup. Up front, Alexis Sanchez is coming off an impressive season with Barcelona. He anchors an offense that also boasts the versatile talents of midfielder Arturo Vidal along with a strong defense led by goaltender Claudio Bravo and defender Mauricio Isla.