Coaches react after tough FIFA World Cup draw

Coaches and players were quick to react following Friday's 2014 FIFA World Cup draw, where more than one "group of death" was formed.

Italy, England to meet in Group D

Left to right, Croatia coach Niko Kovac, France coach Didier Deschamps, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda and Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez in Brazil, on December 6, 2013. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)

Coaches and players were quick to react following Friday's 2014 FIFA World Cup draw, where more than one "group of death" was formed. 

"It's a tough group, there's no doubt about that. In Italy and Uruguay it's almost as though we have got two number one seeds in our group, England coach Roy Hodgson told the BBC. "We know how good Italy are because we lost to them in the quarterfinals at the Euros. The game is going to be tough from a climate point of view for both teams. We're both in the same boat.

"There were not going to be many scenarios where we were going to be jumping for joy. It doesn't surprise us. I suppose one positive is that we have only got one long trip then the other two are in the same neck of the woods."

"We have a difficult group — maybe the most difficult — but usually when we come up against difficulty we arrive prepared," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told RAI state TV. "We're going to have to sweat it out. They're going to be some very interesting matches. Italy beat both Uruguay and England in penalty shootouts in their last official meetings.

"It isn't so much who we play, but how we'll play them," Prandelli said, adding that the difficult travel schedule and midday matches will also play a role. "The squad will need to be in great physical condition and have confidence in that area. Our preparation will take into account these difficulties."

Easy on paper for France

"It could have been more complicated," France coach Didier Deschamps said. "Another good thing is that we won't play in the northern regions, where the temperatures and the level of humidity are very high and the distances are very long. We stay more or less in the same area, which is not too far from our training camp. It's a rather good news."

"When you start a competition, the most important thing is to win the first match," Deschamps told TMC television. "We open against Honduras and not Switzerland, the seeded team, so that's an ideal situation. It's a favourable order of play but only if we win this first match."

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal conceded his group was tough. "We have to play the world champion, we have to play Australia who we have never beaten and Chile was 3-0 up recently against Colombia before it ended 3-3, so that is not a weak team."

"The opponents are tough, but for the playing conditions it is not too bad." But Van Gaal noted that if the Netherlands progress from the group stage they will have to play one of the teams from the group headed by host nation Brazil. "That is a tough group and you travel north and the playing conditions get worse."

Netherlands striker Arjen Robben told national broadcaster NOS in a telephone interview from his home, "It's a tough group, but a good group. It will be hard work." Robben said his Bayern Munich teammate Claudio Pizarro warned him this week about Chile. "He told me: 'make sure you don't get Chile, they are very strong."'

Weather also a tough challenge

Germany coach Joachim Loew said dealing with the humidity and heat will be the biggest challenge. "I accept it as it is, we have no influence anyway. The main thing is that we know where we'll play and we can take the next step in preparing for this World Cup," Loew said.

"We have to get used to the humidity and the heat, it's going to be incredibly humid and hot."We must get used to it, in training and preparing." Our opponents are old friends, we played Ghana in 2010, we played Portugal at the 2012 Euro." German team officials had dinner with Klinsmann last night. "We have a very close relationship," said Loew, who was Klinsmann's assistant at home in 2006.

Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said, "It's such a difficult group. We'll try to be as competitive as possible to give us a chance to reach the knockout stages. In the career of a coach, you know this is the path that you may have to take. So we have to prepare well.

"After getting out of the war of the group stage, you don't move on to an easier fate with having to face winners of Group A."

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, speaking to German TV, in German, said: "Football produces crazy stories ... Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo, Ghana, which eliminated us the last two times. It couldn't have been a tougher group.

"But we have the best year in U.S. football behind us, our players are spread throughout the big leagues, in the Premiere League, in the Bundesliga, in Italy.

"It's a hammer group but we can manage. Germany has it better, travel-wise, because they have relatively short distances to travel and we have the biggest distance to cover of all teams. But we can't change it and we'll take it as is."

Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis was optimistic. "This is a tough group with tough teams — all of them. But I am optimistic because we respond to challenges well. Any of the teams in this group can make the difference, so it definitely won't be easy. Our style of play generally remains the same. We are tough and we don't concede easily. I don't care how people describe our game or whether our style will be more defensive or offensive. We will play to make the last 16 and will fight for it as much as we can — you can be sure about that."


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