The flaws of the World Cup favorites: Why France, Brazil, England and others could struggle in Qatar

At this point, it's easier to list which national teams are not in the middle of some kind of pre-World Cup crisis. Forget the USMNT's forgettable loss to Japan; after all, the majority of the tournament favorites all seem to be experiencing their own kinds of meltdowns.

Such is the nature of international soccer. While federations don't necessarily have to worry about losing star players to richer teams, they also can't just go out and sign whomever they want. Coaches can select only from a mostly random collection of people who, as FIFA rules state, are citizens of that country and also exhibit a "genuine link" to the nation. That leads to lopsided player pools -- you can't do anything if your four best players all happen to be right-backs -- which theoretically requires a higher degree of tactical sophistication from the manager in order to make it all work.

Except for the most part, the best coaches don't coach national teams anymore because the pay isn't as good. And if they did still coach national teams, they wouldn't be able to implement the right kind of high-wire, tactical plans because their rosters are always changing and the teams train together for only a couple of weeks per year.

Depending on how you want to look at it, this is either the charm or the bane of international soccer: Everyone is deeply flawed, including the nine favorites to lift the trophy in Qatar. So let's go through each one and their profound issues, in ascending order of how likely the betting markets think they are to win the whole thing.