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Match Previews

World Cup 2014 Group B Preview

5 June 2014

By Rhys Griffiths

The start of the World Cup in Brazil is just a week away and in the build-up to the tournament we're looking at what fans can expect in each of the eight groups. Today we take a look at Group B, which contains holders Spain.

Spain

What is there to say about La Roja that has not already been said? Years of dominance at the peak of the international game have seen Spain claim European Championships in 2008 and 2012 to sandwich their World Cup victory in South Africa last time around. There has been talk that their powers may be waning, but just a glance at the names in their squad reminds you that no one will be taking them lightly. Boss Vicente del Bosque will look to the peerless talents of Barcelona duo Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta to pull the strings in midfield as this truly golden generation seeks to retain its World Cup crown.

Netherlands

Here's a banker of a prediction when it comes to the Dutch at this year's World Cup: their fans will come clad head-to-toe in orange. But on the field? Who knows. The Netherlands have never been an easy team to predict when it comes to major tournaments. Runners-up three times - in 1974, 1978 and last time out in 2010 - it is hard to know if Louis van Gaal's side will again contest the final or crash out in a group stage Spain will certainly hope to win. Still, with a squad containing the likes of Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie, fans of the Oranje can always dream that this will be their year.

Chile

Chile bloodied English noses with a 2-0 victory at Wembley back in November thanks to a brace from Barcelona striker Alexis Sanchez. He is likely to be a key figure for coach Jorge Sampaoli as Chile look to emerge from a group containing two of the heavyweights of world football. But despite the draw there's no reason for the Chileans to be unduly pessimistic, with their typically swaggering Wembley performance and the squad's blend of youth and experience leading a number of commentators to flag La Roja as a team to watch in Brazil this summer.

Australia

Given the quality elsewhere in Group B, it is likely that simply making it past the group stage would be considered a resounding success for Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou. Veteran forward Tim Cahill has said competition for places in the starting XI is now at its fiercest since the Guus Hiddink era as Postecoglou looks to freshen up a side that some fans felt had grown too old under former manager Holger Osieck, who successfully guided the Australians through qualification for a place in Brazil. Alongside Cahill, the squad contains a number of faces familiar to English fans, with Crystal Palace skipper Mile Jedinak and Preston North End's Bailey Wright among those heading to the World Cup.

Group B Fixtures (all times UK)

June 13th, 20:00: Spain v Netherlands - Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
June 13th, 23:00: Chile v Australia - Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba
June 18th, 20:00: Spain v Chile - Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
June 18th, 17:00: Australia v Netherlands - Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
June 23rd, 17:00: Australia v Spain - Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
June 23rd, 17:00: Netherlands v Chile - Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo


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