World Cup Countdown - Ricardo Vaz Te

Ricardo Vaz Te believes the South American nations will be tough to beat at this summer's FIFA World Cup finals.

Brazil go into their home tournament as favourites and Hammers forward Vaz Te can see why.

The Portuguese striker says they have the firepower and knowhow to triumph, although he is not ruling out a challenge from the traditional European powerhouses.

"I'm not playing for Portugal, so Portugal can't win it!" he joked. "I think the South American teams have a very good chance as it's in their backyard.

"Brazil are yearning for another World Cup and I think they're due one. We saw in the Confederations Cup that they were brilliant, so I think they have a very, very good chance.

"All the other South American teams play at a high tempo, so with the climate the European teams might find it difficult.

"I think Portugal have a good chance if Cristiano is fit and strong. My first choice is Brazil, then Germany. Portugal to be the underdogs."

Vaz Te is also tipping another South American to shine in the shape of Lionel Messi, especially as he has suffered World Cup disappointment in the past.

He added: "People have to remember that Messi is due a World Cup as well. The reason is that he hasn't performed that well and has had criticism, so if people are are going to put him on the pedestal of the likes of Pele, for that he has to win a World Cup to be in Maradona's standards.

"So I think he is going to be on fire, and you have Neymar and Cristiano too - his goal ratio is ridiculous and he has high standards all day, every day."