THIS could be the year an outsider can join the elite group of seven countries to have won the World Cup.

Everyone is looking at Italy and Brazil while fellow previous winners Germany and England have a good chance.

But the fact there are plenty of teams left in the competition who can come up trumps because the big teams are all beatable.

Sweden, Denmark, Mexico, Portugal, Belgium and even Japan can gain confidence from the holes which have appeared in the make-ups of the favourites. And Spain must be licking their lips that this is finally going to be their year.

For all Brazil's beautiful football their problems in defence were exposed by a Costa Rica team which walzed through their back line time and again.

Italy did their usual trick of snatching qualification from the jaws of failure although only a fool would bet against them.

England can also improve on their performances against Sweden and Nigeria but even if they match the brilliant display against Argentina there is still a big question mark over their ability to score.

Germany are dark horses. They look solid and organised and in Miroslav Klose have a man in top form in front of goal.

But when an average German side have a chance then anyone can win it.

Either Sweden and Senegal will get through to the last eight where they will come up against another unfancied side in hosts Japan or Turkey. And who would back against one of those four going all the way? Not me.