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Best Reds in Brazil?

Ben Hibbs predicts how each country with United players will fare at the World Cup...

Belgium: Last 16
Ecuador: Last 16
England: Quarter-finals
France: Quarter-finals
Japan: Last 16
Mexico: Group
Netherlands: Last 16
Portugal: Quarter-finals
Spain: Semi-finals

10/06/2014 08:45, Report by Ben Hibbs

Blog: Spanish rule

In a poll this week, we asked fans which Reds will go furthest at the World Cup. ManUtd.com's Ben Hibbs backed Messrs Mata and De Gea...

Consider that David De Gea, United's Player of the Year, only made his Spain debut a mere five days before the World Cup's opening ceremony, while his good friend and Reds' record signing Juan Mata faces a fight for a place in La Roja's midfield, and it tells you all you need to know about the talent at Vicente Del Bosque's disposal.

The reigning World and European champions are well-stocked for goalkeepers and they've long since monopolised the market for mercurial midfielders. Even if Spain utilise their patented possession-hoarding, striker-less formation, Mata must look down the squad list's bulging category marked 'midfielders' and shrug when he sees the names... Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso, Fabregas Silva, Cazorla, Busquets, Koke, Martinez.

Granted, not all of those players compete for the spaces Mata so gracefully ghosts into, the creative attacking areas between midfield and attack, but it highlights just how hard it was breaking into the 23-man party. As World Cup winners, you expect that. It's something De Gea has had to live with too. At 23, he's still a kid in goalkeeping terms, but he has come of age spectacularly at Old Trafford and his brilliant United displays, particularly in the last two seasons, would make him first choice for many of the 32 teams in Brazil.

So, Spain are strong – shock, horror – we know that. They'll certainly need to be in Group B, though, as they open the defence of their World Cup crown against the Netherlands, the team they beat in 2010's final. Leap over that hurdle unhindered and they'll take some stopping, but I reckon Lionel Messi and Argentina will do just that in the semis, leaving the final perhaps most neutrals want - Argentina vs Brazil.

More: Poll results: Spain to reign

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