World Cup Group B Preview – by Gregg Livingstone

May 30, 2014 11:08 am

Group B consists of holders Spain, Netherlands, Chile and Australia. We will see a replay of the 2010 final between Spain and Holland and we also have the lowest FIFA ranked team in the competition in the shape of Australia. Chile make up the group and I can see them making it interesting for the 2 favourites. Spain and Holland will fancy their chances of progressing as the top 2 but with Chile’s brand of attacking football they could worry the big guns. Australia have it all to do and with an opening game against Chile, they really need points from that game to stand a chance of doing something in this group.

NETHERLANDS

Holland flew through qualification with 9 wins and a draw to secure their ticket to Brazil. The 2010 runners up only conceded 5 goals in 10 games, so a Dutch defender might be a decent and slightly cheaper option for your team. Although their qualifying group was far from difficult, they still finished 9 points clear of second place Romania and will hope to take that good form into a very difficult world cup group. Holland not only have a tight defence but are also potent in the attacking department, an 8-1 demolition of Hungary in qualifiers shows that they have what it takes up front to cause any team problems. Robin van Persie bagging a hat trick in that game helped him finish joint top scorer in the qualifiers with 11 goals. With Dutch manager Louis van Gaal heading off to manage Manchester United after the competition, he would love to emulate his predecessor Bert van Marwijk in reaching the final or even go one better. You never quite know which Holland you are going to get but the ‘Orangje’ will have to be at their very best to progress in this tournament and qualify from a very tough group.

KEY 3

Wesley Sneijder 6.6 (97 caps/26 goals)

Arjen Robben 7.6 (73 caps/22 goals)

Robin van Persie 9.8 (83 caps/42 goals)

Galatasaray’s attacking midfielder Wesley Sneijder has been in good form this season scoring 15 goals. With Holland manager Louis van Gaal indicating that Sneijder will play a big part in the team, his price of just 6.6 million is very reasonable.

Bayern Munich’s tricky winger Arjen Robben is one of the world’s best players, love him or hate him, he has the class to unlock defences and make things happen. 15 goals for Bayern this season plus a boat load of assists helped them win the Bundesliga about 9 months ago!! Worth 7.6 of anyone’s money.

Manchester United’s RVP has endured an injury plagued season but with 24 goals for club and country in 2013/14, Holland’s talisman is certainly a good shout to get some good points this world cup.

FUN FACT! Holland were the first European team to qualify for Brazil 2014.

AUSTRALIA

Australia came through a complex qualifying stage to book their place in Brazil. A stuttering 1-1 draw with South Africa in their final home friendly did nothing to inspire the Aussie fans, and at 59th in the Fifa rankings, are the lowest ranked team in the competition. 2006 saw Australia reach the second round but in 2010 they failed to get out of the group, and I predict the same fate this time around. It’s a massive ask to qualify from a group with the calibre of teams in group B. With the firepower that Spain and Holland have at their disposal I would avoid an Australian defender at all costs. With their first game against Chile, that game represents their best chance of getting some points and they will need to take something off them to stand any realistic chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

KEY 3

Tim Cahill 7.9 (68 caps/32 goals)

Mark Bresciano 5.3 (73 caps/13 goals)

Joshua Kennedy 6.0 (33 caps/17 goals)

New York Red Bulls Tim Cahill has been Australia’s talisman for a decade now, and with 32 goals in 68 games he is certainly the Socceroo’s danger man. At 7.9 he might be worth a punt especially because of his qualities in the air but I can’t see him getting too many chances against the defences he’s up against.

Mark Bresciano is currently plying his trade in Qatar and at 34 is maybe past his best, but with Parma and Lazio on his CV he has the ability to be a key player and the Socceroo’s will need his creativity in midfield.

Big striker Joshua Kennedy has been at Nagoya Grampus since 2009 and has 63 goals in 128 games. At 6ft 4 he offers something different up front and has the height to trouble defenders.

FUN FACT! The Socceroo’s hold the world record for the biggest international win, 31-0 V American Samoa.

CHILE

Chile qualified for the tournament after finishing 3rd in their group, above Ecuador and Uruguay. Chile’s ethos is to attack and they play great football but they are also very suspect at the back, this is evident of the 25 goals conceded in qualifying in just 16 games. However, their 29 goals scored was only bettered by Argentina in their group. Chile have made it to the second in their previous two world cup campaigns, in 2010 and back in 1998 and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to me if they made it out of this group. On paper it should be Holland and Spain but stranger things have happened at the World Cup. Chile open with what should be their easiest game, against Australia. Maximum points here and a draw between Spain and Holland would give Chile a real lift and something to hold on to going in to their next fixture. Chile also have the advantage of playing in their own continent so will be fully acclimatised to the weather and playing conditions.

KEY 3

Alexis Sanchez 9.4 (65 caps/22 goals)

Arturo Vidal 6.8 (53 caps/18 goals)

Marcelo Diaz 5.7 (19 caps/0 goals)

Although Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez doesn’t get as much playing time as he would like, he is a quality player. 39 league goals for Barca in 88 games shows that when he plays he makes a real impact.

A world class box to box midfielder, Vidal has enjoyed a great season for Juventus and is considered a complete midfielder. In 2013 he was ranked the 11th best footballer in the world by Bloomberg.

The Basel midfielder has been described as ‘the south American Xavi’ and has excellent ball control and passing ability. He doesn’t score that many but may chip in with the odd assist.

FUN FACT! Football is the most popular sport in Chile, however their most success has been in tennis.

SPAIN

World champions Spain had to qualify for this tournament due to a FIFA rule brought in in 2006. They topped the group ahead of France and were unbeaten in doing so. Vincente del Bosque is looking to lead his Spain team to a 4th international title in a row, after the 2012 European Championships, 2010 World cup and the 2008 Euros won by del Bosques predecessor Luis Aragones.The number one ranked team are not considered favourites this time around especially because Brazil are on home soil, but it is hard not to fancy them to do it again with the squad they have at their disposal. I can see Spain topping this group and they have a wealth of experience and class to deal with the pressure on footballs biggest stage. Arguably Spain’s weakest area is in attack but they have been known to field teams without a recognised striker and with the likes of Xavi, Fabregas, Silva and Mata have plenty of options going forward. A mouth-watering opening game against Holland could decide the group winners and it will take Holland to be at their best to stop the Spanish football machine marching on.

KEY 3

David Silva 7.5 (78 caps/20 goals)

Sergio Ramos 6.3 (115 caps/9 goals)

Pedro 8.7 (37 caps/14 goals)

Manchester City playmaker David Silva can change a game in a heartbeat, more offensive than Xavi or Iniesta, he has enjoyed another great season at club level and I expect him to take that form into this tournament.

Fresh from his heroics in the Champions League final, Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos is a class defender who is good in the air and gets his fair share of goals. He often gets forward and gets plenty of assists for a defender and is the highest scoring active defender in La Liga. However beware, this lad has been sent off a whopping 19 times.

Barcelona’s Pedro has had another season with 19 goals this term. 8.7 is a good price providing he plays but with so many great players in the squad he may be limited to substitute appearances and being used as an impact player.

FUN FACT! The name Spain diverged from the word Ispania, which means the land of rabbits!

Thanks for reading and best of luck to you all.

Cheers,

Gregg

This post was written by FiT Admin

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