Almost all of the world's best will be competing in Brazil. Here are the top 10 talents who will be expected to shine.
Becoming the highest goalscorer in Barcelona's history is no mean feat - a statistic made particularly remarkable by the fact the forward does not even turn 27 until the day before Argentina's final Group F match against Nigeria. This tournament looks his best chance to add major international honours to his glittering club CV and is thriving on the responsibility of captaining a side oozing attacking talent, with Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain headlining a strong support cast.
Having won last year's Ballon d'Or, the Real Madrid man could well secure the crown once more by dragging an otherwise ordinary Portugal team to glory. Their qualification play-off against Sweden was billed as a clash of the superstars, with Ronaldo pitted against Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a place in Brazil. The Real Madrid man more than rose to the occasion, firing in a hat-trick in the second leg to book Portugal's ticket
This has been an important 12 months for the man seen as Brazil's big hope, with the attacker proving himself on the international stage at the Confederations Cup and then enjoying an impressive first season in European football with Barcelona. The 22-year-old has slotted in seamlessly at the Nou Camp and his stock will only rise further should he help Brazil to success on home turf.
Neymar's team-mate is arguably the main man for Spain these days, who are aiming to become the first side since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups. Blessed with superb technique which always seems to afford him a few extra seconds on the ball than lesser talents, he will as ever be at the heart of Spain's slick passing style.
He may not be a guaranteed starter for Bayern Munich, but that is only down to the strength Pep Guardiola's side possesses. Muller is key to Joachim Low's national team, though, who arguably look best placed of the European sides to challenge for the title. Muller was one of the stars of the 2010 finals, winning the Golden Boot in South Africa, and is arguably an even more accomplished player now. Impossible to pigeon-hole him into one position, making him a difficult man for opponents to track or predict.
The French wide man was a stellar performer for Bayern in their treble success of domestic league, cup and Champions League in 2013 and also impressed as Les Bleus came from behind to beat Ukraine in the November play-offs. Performed well at the 2006 World Cup in Germany but at 31 he may feel this is his last serious shot at World Cup success. If France can stop shooting themselves in the foot at international tournaments, he has a chance.
The Manchester United forward has never quite fulfilled the promise he showed when he burst on to the scene before and during Euro 2004, but nevertheless he remains the most potent threat in an England team which lacks inspiration if not perspiration. Rooney endured a tough campaign with United and, while probably accepting that winning the World Cup is a long shot in the extreme, will be desperate to prove his ability at the very highest level of international football.
ROBIN VAN PERSIE
Rooney's strike partner is another who struggled - by his high standards - at United last season, but has remained an important of Louis van Gaal's side. Van Persie has been handed the captaincy of a Dutch team much changed from the one which flopped spectacularly at Euro 2012. There are few more accomplished or deadly finishers in the game than Van Persie, who top-scored in the European section of qualification with 11 goals.
With Radamel Falcao touch and go to feature for Colombia due to a serious knee injury, the pressure on Monaco team-mate Rodriguez to perform will be high. There is no doubting who 'Los Cafeteros' star man is but their return to the sport's greatest stage for the first time since 1998 will need to be a true team effort, with 22-year-old key to that.
The play-acting, the biting and the agitating may all make Suarez a difficult character to warm to, but there is no questioning his importance to club and country or his talent as a footballer. Capable of operating anywhere along or behind the forward line, he was inspirational as Uruguay won the 2011 Copa America and three years on, in another South American tournament, he should be one of the stars of the show.