World Cup Preview: Group B
Continuing our World Cup Preview, we move on to Group B. With the unlikeliest of draws, the two finalists in 2010's World Cup ended up in the same group-- they open World Cup play against each other. Spain and the Netherlands played an epic 2010 final that ended when Andres Iniesta scored the only goal of the game in the 116th minute of the match-- giving Spain their first world title. With a dangerous Chile and overmatched Australia rounding out the group, the opening match between Spain and the Netherlands could decide the teams that advance to the knockout stage.
Let's break down Group B:
Spain- This squad returns the vast majority of the roster that not only won the World Cup in 2010, but also the last two Euro Cup championships. With players like Andre Iniesta, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas, Cesc Fabregas, and Juan Mata on the squad; they are still clearly among the favorites to win the World Cup title-- though no European team has ever won in the Americas. They open up with the Netherlands, then take on a very dangerous Chile squad, before closing up with Australia. If they can through the first two without a loss, they will find themselves in the knockout phase.
Netherlands- Oranje comes into the tournament with scoring machine Robin Van Persie, and Arjen Robben and Rafael Van Der Vaart add punch to the other 2010 World Cup finalists. Sure they open with Spain this time around, but after what should be an easy match against Australia could be playing for the final spot in the knockout phase in the last game versus Chile.
Chile- Chile comes with captain Claudio Bravo at goal, the attacking of Alexis Sanchez and the playmaking ability of Arturo Vidal. While most people may have Spain and the Netherlands moving on to the next round, Chile has just as much chance to advance as those two squads. You can never count out a team that came in third in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. They're key match will be their second match, when they face Spain. If they pull off the upset there, they find themselves in the knockout stage. If they tie, they might be able to advance with either a tie or win against Netherlands in the final game.
Australia- Tim Cahill is the best player the Aussies have, but he is getting up in age. The Socceroos come into the tournament with very little chance to advance. They actually will most likely be unable to win a single game. Whatever their results in the tournament, this squad will go into every match and give their absolute best every game and might give their opponents fits.
Best match- It is a tie between Spain vs Netherlands and Netherlands vs Chile.
Predicted Order of Finish:
1. Spain, 7 pts
2. Netherlands, 5 pts
3. Chile, 4 pts
4. Australia, 0 pts