Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia.
As Fate would have had it, Group B of the FIFA World Cup 2014 is laden with heavyweights Spain and Netherlands; the two teams who literally fought against each other in the World Cup 2010 finale in South Africa. Spain went on to become the eventual champions. Spain the top ranked team not only in Group B but also in the FIFA World Rankings, are expected to qualify without any major hiccups. They have already proved their worth by defeating Netherlands the last time they met in the World Cup. A few friendly matches with Chile and Del Bosque has probably devised a plan already to hold the La Roja. The least of their worries will be Australia. Netherlands has been provided with a thin chance of avenging their defeat and eliminate the defending Champions Spain from the group stages itself. But that would be no easy job and Netherlands will depend on the results from the games of Chile. It will be also be a point of observation if the squad can recreate the winning form they showed in the last World Cup. The Chilean squad has also shown some promise under their new manager Jorge Sampoali. Having qualified as the third team from South America, they have adopted a very attacking style of football which always sets pulses racing. This team will be looking to progress further this time after their Round of 16 exit in the previous version. Australia on the other hand is definitely the underdog and the lowest ranked team in this group. Football is always an unpredictable game but it is very much expected that the Socceroos will not be able to inflict any significant damage to the other nations in their group.
Players to Watch :
Andres Iniesta(ESP) – This gifted and consistent footballer has proved his abilities numerous times for his club at Barcelona and for his national side. A goal in the finals in the 2010 version of the World Cup gifted them the elusive trophy and sent the Netherlands into the depths of despair.
Diego Costa(ESP) – Another Spaniard in the list, no surprises really, from the seaof ralent that the Spanish national team boasts of, Diego Costa will be closely watched. Brazil 2014 will be his debut World Cup. Surrounded by controversies since day one, Costa snubbed Brazil and opted to play for his adopted nation Spain. Whether he will fire or fizzle out remains the question and football fans, club managers and coaches around the world will be keeping a close eye on him.
Arjen Robben( NED) – This pacey and agile winger has been a threat to defenders in every match he played so far. His ideal position is the left flank and on any given day Robben can easily control the game. His only shortcoming – he forgets to pass when in high pressure.
Arturo Vidal(CHI) – This midfielder who controls the midfield game at Juventus, will be looking to maintain his form in the World Cup. With the very talented Alexis Sanchez upfront, we can expect to see goals coming off from assists by Vidal. With his abilities as a tenacious box-to-box player, lots of responsibility will be on his shoulders not only to perform in the attacking third but also to defend with a lot of dedication.
Alexis Sanchez(CHI)– This versatile forward from Barcelona has become more fluent in his trade after playing alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Iniesta. Sanchez has been scoring crucial goals at moments when Barcelona needed them. Although at Barcelona any forward is expected to be overshadowed by the talent named Messi, yet Sanchez has proven his mettle with 18 goals in the 2013-2014 season so far.
Big Matches in the group:
Spain vs Netherlands: Having faced each other 9 times and a win ratio of 50-50 that both the International teams boast of, Spain and Netherlands share only a single drawn match between them. This time around these two nations will be fighting for a sure chance to advance to the next round as the group leaders and most pundits expect this match to be one of the high voltage matches that we can look forward to in the early stages of the tournament.
Spain vs Chile: Spain has dominated 8 games out of the 10 times these two nations have gone head to head. The other two have yielded no results. This match features as one of the big matches in the group as both the Spanish speaking nations will be pushing hard for the win. While Chile is expected to maintain a high line of defence and swift counter attacks, Spain on the other hand will play cool with their tiki-taka. Midfield battles will also be one of the attractions in this match with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Vidal all in one field. \
Netherlands vs Chile: Having already ruled out Australia’s chances to usurp any of their opponents, the deciding match will be this one. These two nations might just have to fight for the crucial second spot in order to qualify.
Australia: 0 points
Read about the other groups here!