World Cup countdown

The clock's ticking to the start of the 2014 World Cup and it's now just 18 weeks to kick-off. It might sound like a long time but it really isn't. With that in mind, Sky Sports goes around the globe to get the best news, views and opinion on the road to Rio...

Rising from the ashes

Following peace talks, a war-ravaged Bosnia and Herzegovina only competed in their first official match in 1995, but now after an unbelievable qualification campaign that saw the Balkan state lose just one game en route to the finals, the Dragons head to South America brimming with confidence.

And after all they have been through, on and off the pitch, never has a nation had more support from the football community than the 2014 World Cup's only debutants.

Heartbreaking defeats in play-offs for the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, both to Portugal, led many to believe that coach Safet Susic would not be able to deliver what the country so craved.

However, Bosnia's 'Golden Generation' dispelled such fears, displaying an attacking elan that blew teams away, scoring 30 goals and amassing 25 points in sealing automatic qualification for the summer showpiece.

Jubilant scenes ensued all over the country, none more so than in the capital Sarajevo - the scene of some of the worst atrocities of the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995.

Read Pete Hall's full profile of Bosnia's remarkable rise here

Out To Impress

World Cup diary

Sky Sports provides a guide for subscribing to our World Cup dates for your diary

With England manager Roy Hodgson set to watch Sunderland take on Hull City in the Premier League this weekend, a few players could be in with the chance of making a late push for the World Cup squad.

Hull's Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore have been in good form but Sunderland's Adam Johnson has looked like a man reborn. Can the winger impress Hodgson? The former Middlesbrough and Manchester City man certainly hopes so.

Click here to read the ambitions of Sunderland's Adam Johnson.

Setting Targets

Tottenham Hotspur are in a battle for the Premier League's top four but full-back Kyle Walker also has some personal targets this season. A trip to Brazil for the World Cup would be one of those once-in-a-lifetime events.

"Hopefully I will be on the plane to Brazil. It would be a great achievement at the age of 23 and I would love to show what I could do out there, testing myself against the top countries."

To read more from Kyle Walker's interview with Sky Sports' Johnny Phillips, click here.

Rio Dream

Everyone has the ambition to play in a World Cup final, even the best players on the planet...

Lionel Messi has admitted he dreams of helping Argentina to arguably the pinnacle achievement in sport. Will it be this summer in Rio de Janeiro on 13th July?

To have a look at the full interview with Lionel Messi, click here.

Look Who's Back

Eric Djemba-Djemba has his own place in Premier League history. The former Manchester United man did not exactly take England's top flight by storm back in the Noughties and can consequently often be the subject of a joke or two.

However, the Cameroonian midfielder, who also played for Aston Villa and Burnley, is back in British football having signed for Scottish club St Mirren and he has World Cup ambitions.

Check out the thoughts of the returning Eric Djemba-Djemba.

Sky Bet Say...

At every World Cup it seems fans are denied the chance to watch some of the game's best players on the biggest stage of all. From George Best to Gareth Bale, sometimes the origins of one's birth can cruelly deny both viewers and would-be participants the right.

And, of course, for the teams who regularly qualify there is always the threat of injury. Rarely does a World Cup pass without a high-profile player being omitted through injury, and in 2014's case it looks to be Colombia's Radamel Falcao.

The Monaco striker suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage playing for his club in January and, after having knee surgery, is only given a glimmer of hope to be fit to travel to Brazil. Even should he be included in the squad, Falcao is unlikely to be fully fit, seeing Colombia's odds to win the World Cup lengthen from 22/1 to 25/1.

It was an unlikely feat in any case but without their talisman, who managed nine goals in their qualifying campaign, how far can they realistically go? In a group also consisting of Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece, the bookmakers expect them to qualify but go no further, with a second-round exit deemed most likely at 13/8. Click here to bet.