The best teams that will compete in Brazil, in no particular order, are Spain, Germany, Argentina, and of course, Brazil. Got it? Good. Now, the next thing to know going into the tournament is who the best players are, because that's who will be dominating the story lines both on an off the field. For us, the three best attacking players in the world are Lionel Messi of Argentina, Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, and Luis Suarez of Uruguay. Messi, who plays his club soccer for Barcelona in Spain, has widely been regarded as the best player in the game over the past few years. He's scored 124 league goals in Spain over the past three seasons, and was also hailed as the best player in the world by FIFA from 2009-12. But as prolific as Messi has been for club, he's yet to put it together on the international stage. He failed to score at the last World Cup in 2010, in which Argentina exited in the quarters at the hands of Germany, and this tournament is largely being viewed as Messi's do-or-die moment with Argentina.
Scoring 31 league goals and winning the Champions League with Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo was set to enter this World Cup as the hottest player on the planet. And while that still might be the case, Ronaldo is currently dealing with both tendinitis and a muscle injury in his left leg. Still, Portugal wouldn't even be in Brazil were it not for CR's heroics. The Madrid man scored four times in a two-legged playoff against Sweden just to place Portugal among the 32 finalists. Will a less than 100-percent-fit Ronaldo be able to guide Portugal out of the group stage?
Lastly, we come to Liverpool and Uruguay's Luis Suarez. Suarez tied a Premier League (England's top division) scoring record with 31 goals in 33 league matches this season, none of which came from the penalty spot. While he's been maligned in previous seasons for racism, diving, and biting-yes, biting-Suarez is a footballing genius, who is coming off his best season to date in multiple ways. He guided Liverpool to a second place finish in the league, and perhaps more importantly, a return to next season's Champions League (Europe's greatest club competition). Uruguay will feel at home playing in South America, and his strike partnership with Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani could prove lethal.