Whenever England qualify for the World Cup the local media goes into a frenzy about their nation's chances of overall victory but Hargreaves is not convinced that will happen in the lead-up to Brazil 2014.
Although England qualified top of Group H, Hargreaves says the team is in a transition period and will not be genuine contenders next year.
"The squad is going through some changes at the moment," Hargreaves said.
"There are the players of the older generation, including some of my fellow players from that time, (Steven) Gerrard, (Frank) Lampard, are very strong players.
"And there are those coming through the ranks now but it would be a surprise if we won the World Cup."
England have only won one major trophy in their history – the 1966 World Cup on home soil.
Since being knocked out of Euro 2012, Roy Hodgson's men have lost just one game in 16 but Hargreaves says a deficiency in central defence will make it difficult for England in Brazil.
"Well I think Gerrard and (Wayne) Rooney are very strong, (Daniel) Sturridge is playing very well at the moment, but the question isn't if you have the right players or not, but if you have the right mixture," the 32-year-old former midfielder said.
"England have a great goalkeeper in Joe Hart but the central defence isn't maybe as strong as what they had in the past.
"Ashley Cole, Kyle Walker, Glen Johnson are also good in their positions, and Andros Townsend has moved up."
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