Back to the future. Spain and the Netherlands, who contested an ugly, card laden, World Cup final four years ago, renew their rivalry in Group B. It’s unlikely both will advance so far this time around, and the attack-minded Chileans are also expected to challenge for a round of 16 berth.
Players to Watch
Andres Iniesta (SPA), David Silva (SPA), Arjen Robben (NED), Robin van Persie (NED), Alexis Sanchez (CHI), Arturo Vidal (CHI), Tim Cahill (AUS), Mark Bresciano (AUS).
June 13, Salvador: Spain vs. Netherlands. Arguably the most eye-catching game of the group phase in Brazil, this replay of the 2010 Final will set the tone. Is Spain still the force it was four years ago (when it lost its opening game) or can the Dutch avenge that heartbreaking defeat having had chances to claim the crown?
Hot Chile? Not the biggest nor the most glamorous of the South American contingent, Chile represents a real threat to the European heavyweights. Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli has made a big difference since taking the helm and if Sanchez is firing on all cylinders, Chile can plan for an extended stay.
Spain should emerge as Group B winners. The world champions’ experience and ability should ensure their progress. Chile and the Netherlands are expected to battle for the runners-up spot and their clash in Sao Paolo is set to be pivotal. Australia simply doesn’t have the class to survive in this company.