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World Cup 2010: Who are the champions? Winners revealed

Spain

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 have been revealed daily, one by one, and we can today announce that SPAIN were the favourite choice for outright tournament winner.

Our survey shows Brazil in second, Argentina third with England fourth.

We polled over 50 experts from more than 20 nations, and no-one plumped for other previous winners Germany, Italy and France to repeat the trick in South Africa.

If the survey is proved right, Euro 2008 winners Spain will make history by becoming world champions for the first time and the first European team to win the World Cup in another continent.

606: DEBATE

They narrowly saw off Brazil as the most popular pick for our experts, who were asked to draw up their top four teams, with the caveat that not all predictions might work out precisely because of the variable nature of the World Cup draw.

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WHY THEY PICKED SPAIN

Here are some reasons why pundits plumped for the team managed by Vicente del Bosque.

Ronald de Boer Ex-Netherlands midfielder, 67 caps
Spain have the same group of players as they did in winning Euro 2008, only more experienced. They have played together for a long time so the players know each other's qualities inside out. Also, they have a great bench and in many games it's the substitutes who make the difference.

Papa Bouba Diop Senegal and Portsmouth midfielder, 58 caps
"They are the best team, Spain, and they have the best players. They proved it at Euro 2008 and it's hard to say they won't win this time. An African team, maybe Ivory Coast or Ghana, can do well."

Juan Casto Nogales International writer, Spanish newspaper Marca
"Spain are the best team for the quantity and the quality of exceptional players our national team has. No other team in the world has played like them worldwide. Good keeper, good defenders, exceptional midfielders and some exceptional forwards."

Alan Hansen Former Scotland and Liverpool defender, BBC pundit
"We know how good the Spanish players are and by winning Euro 2008 they showed they could handle the pressure too. They will be full of confidence in South Africa."

Brede Hangeland Norway captain
"If you look through their squad, they have the best players of any nation. To put it into perspective, they'll have some of the best players in the world sitting on the bench and that says it all. They are unbeaten in a very long time and when you see them play they look very solid."

Hardy Hasselbruch Editor, Kicker football magazine, Germany
"Spain are European champions and have the most skilful players. Del Bosque is a very good man to guide the stars from Barca and Real. Stout in defence, creative in offence and strikers like Fernando Torres and David Villa - what a generation of talent."

Paul Kennedy Soccer America magazine/website
Spain has more world-class players than any other team in the tournament. Its midfield (when healthy) is the best in the world. And Del Bosque has an assortment of quality strikers to choose from.

Hans Krankl Former Austria striker, 1978 European Golden Boot winner
"Spain are the best team in the world right now but the rest of the favourites are always the same. Just outside these four, I'd tip Germany and Holland to have success too."

Henrik Larsson Ex-Sweden, Barcelona and Celtic striker
"Spain did so well in Euro 2008 and they have more or less the same team. It is vital for them, though, that Torres stays fit. If he is 100%, they have the best chance but England under Fabio Capello are dangerous. He has got them playing in a different way and also brought the discipline they needed."

Patrick Mboma Ex-Cameroon striker, 33 goals in 56 games
"They are the best in terms of quality and they have the best players in each role. I cannot see why they can't win the World Cup."

Vicente Miera Former Spain manager and defender
"They are, at the moment, the national team that is playing the best football."

Bojan Sec Contributor, Sport Den za Dnem, Russia
"Anyone who has watched them over the last several years has seen a coherent, stable, well-organised group of players who are superbly gifted technically. They lacked a big title but they got that in 2008 and that has given them a winning mentality."

Alan Shearer BBC TV pundit and former England striker
"I was so impressed with Spain in the way they won the Euros two years ago. Their chances might not be diminished by Torres' injury because he could still play a part. He is crucial to their chances, he will be a big player for them, but they have David Villa as well."

Martin Skrtel Slovakia and Liverpool defender
"It would be a mistake to underestimate France and Germany are always a threat. England are tactically strong while Spain play the most beautiful football."

Edwin Struis Nu Sport, Dutch soccer magazine
"In every World Cup since 1930 one of the 'Big Four' (Italy, Argentina, Germany, Brazil) has been in the final. This World Cup won't be an exception on that rule, but we will have a 'debutant' as a winner - Spain. The best players, the best team, some good strikers and a European Championship in the suitcase. Spain will win the double."

Chris Waddle Former winger, 62 caps, BBC 5 live pundit
"I think Spain will win because they have the best squad, won a tournament two years ago and now have the belief."

Vladimir Weiss Manchester City's Slovakia winger, son of national coach Vladimir
"Spain have got some great players and they play the right way too. Their midfield is the best in the world, which is the most important thing in modern football."

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see also
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Who are the champions? Full list
09 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Who are the champions? Second
09 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Who are the champions? Third
08 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Who are the champions? Fourth
07 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team guide: Spain
31 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010


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