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World Cup 2010: BBC Sport asks who are the champions?


A global poll of football experts has been conducted by the BBC Sport website to produce a predicted top four at the 2010 World Cup.

We have been asking pundits, players, managers, journalists and other experts to give us their one-two-three-four forecast at the tournament, which kicks off in South Africa on Friday.

The identities of the top four are being revealed daily, one by one, with the outright tournament winner and all the individual selections published on Thursday.

On Monday, we revealed our survey had envisaged England would finish in fourth position.

And now we can announce the team predicted to come third is ARGENTINA.


World Cup guide - Argentina

International users can view Argentina guide here

One of the pundits backing the Argentines to shine is veteran BBC TV commentator John Motson.

Despite a troubled qualifying campaign with Diego Maradona as manager, Motty put Argentina ahead of England, Italy and Brazil.

"My heart says England, my head says Argentina, although I do think this could be the first time ever that World Cup-winning players will have to manage their manager. I take Italy to knock Spain out," said Motson.

Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague tips Argentina to see off his countrymen, with Brazil and England also in his top four.

"Argentina have two of the most in-form strikers in the world in Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez," stated Balague.

"You don't need to play great football to get far in the World Cup. You have to score at least once in most games. Argentina can do that even if they will not be able to exploit what Messi can do."


And there was support from a nation making its first appearance at a World Cup finals for nearly 30 years.

Ceri Evans, the former New Zealand skipper who played for Oxford United, put Argentina first ahead of Spain, Brazil and Italy.

"Because the tournament is in Africa and not Europe, I have a feeling the South American sides will be better suited. I'll take Argentina to beat Spain in the final. No-one else is likely to say that," added Evans, who was capped 56 times.

No-one aside from ex-England defender Danny Mills, that is.

He also backed the Argentines to win, with Spain second, Germany third and Brazil fourth in his selections.

"Argentina have underperformed the last few times and the time feels right for them to step up to the plate," said Mills, who was right-back for England in all five of their matches at the 2002 World Cup.

Argentina's World Cup qualifying highlights

"Messi will clearly be the focal point and a lot relies on him but I think they have got enough about them to win it. Defensively they are sound - going forward you need a little bit of magic and Messi certainly has that."

Over 50 experts from more than 20 nations were polled in our survey.

They were asked to predict their top four, with the caveat that some forecasts may not work out precisely because of the variable nature of the draw.

But there are some fascinating forecasts, as demonstrated by the team that comes second in our poll, despite being backed to win by former World Cup players such as Vitor Baia, Ray Houghton and Grzegorz Lato.

All will be revealed on Wednesday...

Work out who is going to win the World Cup with our interactive predictor and follow the progress of the 32 nations with our team tracker

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see also
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Who are the champions? Fourth
07 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team guide: Argentina
31 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Recalled duo start for Argentina
09 Jun 10 |  Scottish
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010

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