2014 FIFA WORLD CUP PREVIEWS – GROUP B

AUSTRALIA
Australia peaked at the 2006 World Cup. Loaded with Premier League players, the Socceroos advanced from the group stage and were a controversial penalty decision away from taking eventual champs Italy to extra time in the Round of 16. The socceroos have found themselves in a difficult group with the defending champions Spain, Netherlands and a very tricky Chile side. Putting up good performances rather than getting results against every other team in the group.

australiaPreparations have also had its hitches as Coach Postecoglou only came into the job after qualification had been achieved. The time for his team to get use to his tactics is very short. The team has a lack of talented ballplayers so will look to disrupt opposition teams through a physical style and direct style of play. Mile Jedinak will be key to this, and he was absolutely crucial in Crystal Palace’s late season renaissance under Tony Pulis. He is a player who relishes the physical battle.
The former Everton man – Tim Cahill is still the player which Australia look to when they need a goal. He lacks the speed and agility of days past due to his age, but given sufficient space he will still punish opposition with clinical shooting and stunning aerial ability.
Cahill scored the nation’s first ever World Cup goals in 2006, and he is a talismanic figure for this Australia team. He will be desperate to make an impression in what looks to be his third and final World Cup appearance. If he can inspire the Australians to any kind of positive result from their three games, it’d represent a major achievement for the Socceroos. A first round exit looks a sure bet.

HOLLAND
After the disastrous Euro 2012 campaign, the Dutch team qualified for the World Cup in style, where they went unbeaten. Oranje will start their Group B campaign by meeting reigning World Champions – Spain who edge them out by one goal in South Africa.
Louis Van Gaal has assembled a team with an encouraging blend of established squad members and blossoming youngsters. It means that world-class players like Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben still remain key figures, but they are supported by lesser-known burgeoning talents like Kevin Strootman who will miss the tournament through injury, Bruno Martins-Indi and Jordy Clasie.
Holland having a good tournament rests on the injury prone shoulders of Robin Van-Persie and Arjen Robben and the tactical mind of Louis Van Gaal. Although the Dutch FA expect the team to reach the semi finals, LVG has played their chances down of reaching the semi-finals thereby eliminating every form of being complacent. The Oranje have it in them and can beat anyone on their day. For them to make it out of this tough group, they need those days on their match days. holland

 

CHILE
If there is a team likely to cause an upset in this group, it is Jorge Sampaoli’s men. The Argentine has revived Bielsa’s practice, he loves his team to play in an aggressive and attacking manner, meaning players like Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas pop up in various attacking positions and cause mayhem in the opposition backlines. But they also play a key role when pressing the ball, as the front three spread and hassle the opposition very high up the pitch.

chileThey have been to eight World Cup finals, they have got experience under their belt. We can safely call them one of the tournament’s dark horses. After finishing third in the South American qualifiers, their hopes will rest on the trickery of Alexis Sanchez and midfield powerhouse Arturo Vidal if he is fit. The Juventus man is an all round midfielder; his passing is exceptional, tackles very well and his ability to read the game is magnificent. Vidal is an inspirational figure for Sampaoli’s team and his teammates in turn will look to him.
The Chileans need to work on getting that balance right, but if they come up against teams not accustomed to the humid conditions then their intense style could see them get to the later stages of the competition.

SPAIN

spainjpgWill Spain be dethroned? La Roja, the defending champions are one of the favorites for the golden price in Brazil. Qualification was not as smooth as the road to South Africa in 2010. 18 of the victorious Euro 2012 squad have been called by Vincent Del Bosque for Brazil. Will complacency not set in for La Roja? The 3-0 defeat to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final only emphasized the difficulty of the task facing them and has left many doubting whether they can maintain their stratospheric levels of performance in Brazil this summer.
Write them off at your own peril. Winning a fourth international trophy in a row must serve as enough motivation for them. Performing such feat means this golden generation for Spain will become the greatest side in international history.
Spain can call on so many players for inspiration starting from skipper and goalkeeper, Iker Casillas to Sergio Ramos, Xavi Hernandez and new convert Diego Costa. No one has the magic more than Andres Iniesta, the Barcelona playmaker’s influence at club level is often undervalued due to the brilliance of Lionel Messi. But Iniesta is without doubt Spain’s man for the big occasion. La Roja are overwhelming favorites for the mundial.

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