Group B Preview – Dutch Courageous Enough To Win It?
World Cup 2014
Not an easy one to get out of, Group B has the potential to provide some shocks.
2010 World Cup finalists Netherlands, CONEMBOL third place finishers Chile and Asian Group B runners-up Australia join current World and European champions Spain in Group B. This is one of, along with Group D, the toughest groups possible.
Evidence of the Spanish grip on world football loosening over the past 18 months has been clear for all to see. First came a qualification campaign where they did not win every game, as they had done in preparation for the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships, drawing at home to France and Finland in successive qualifiers midway through the campaign.
Then came the humbling 3-0 defeat to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final – this after requiring a penalty shoot-out to see off Italy in the semis.
Vincente Del Bosque’s team are still one of the very best in the world, just maybe not the best anymore.
Netherlands, on the other hand, were much more convincing in qualifying from UEFA Group D. Nine wins and a draw, with 34 goals scored and just five conceded in their 10 games saw the Dutch power their way to Brazil.
Robin van Persie, will arrive here much fresher than many of his contemporaries
after missing a large chunk of the domestic season through injury, and has scored 11 goals in qualification.
Chile lit up the 2010 World Cup with their dynamic attacking play and continued with that theme throughout qualification for this tournament.
Scoring 29 goals but also conceding 25 amounted to a third place finish in CONEMBOL qualification, while five wins and a draw from their final six qualifiers ensure that Jorge Sampoli’s men arrive on the front foot.
Australia complete the quartet after they finished as runners-up behind Japan in AFC qualification Group B. It was a less-than-convincing campaign that, despite qualification for the World Cup, ultimately resulted in the sacking of manager Holger Osieck.
New boss Ange Postecoglou has been tasked with bringing through a new generation of Socceroos and the unfavourable draw means that expectations are low.
Group B Winner
Spain are obvious favourites here at odds of 8/11 but I much prefer the look of the 5/2 about Netherlands. There is a great incentive to top this group – rather than just qualify – as the runner-up will likely face Brazil in the next round. And I feel that the Dutch are better equipped to do so.
Group B Qualification
The two European sides are short odds-on prices to qualify for the knockout stages, but I wouldn’t be wholly surprised if there was an upset here and Chile booked a place in the last 16 at odds of 10/11.
Sampaoli’s side may not be entirely reliable but they are certainly exciting to watch and if things click into place for the South Americans in either of their games against Netherlands or Spain then they could snatch a top two finish in the group.