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Analysis of Group Stage

South Africa finalists reunited
Group B at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ will be heavily shaded with hues of South Africa 2010, the section kicking off with nothing less than a repeat of the title decider from four years ago. Reigning world champions Spain must thus tussle with 2010 runners-up the Netherland in a group in which Australia and Chile – the latter also having clashed with Vicente del Bosque’s men in the first round on African soil – will be hoping to upset the heavyweight European duo in the race for the Round of 16.

The teams
Spain open their title defence against two teams they defeated on the road to victory in South Africa, while their squad should feature many of the same key players that have enjoyed so much success since 2008. Providing a formidable obstacle to La Roja are a Dutch side that qualified for Brazil 2014 in impeccable style, spearheaded by 11-goal striker Robin Van Persie – without dispute a leading figure in Louis Van Gaal’s revamped Oranje.

Chile, for their part, finished third in South American Zone qualifying and go into the global showpiece endowed with a talented generation headed by Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez and Juventus’ Arturo Vidal. Embracing an attacking style of play, their current coach Jorge Sampaoli, who stepped in for Claudio Borghi in late 2012, has continued to build on the legacy left by Marcelo El Loco Bielsa.

Australia, for whom Brazil 2014 will be their fourth World Cup and third in a row, could prove a very hard-to-define quantity. A qualifying campaign packed with ups and downs, plus the arrival of new coach Ange Postecoglou means this is a genuine transitional phase for the Socceroos.

Players to watch
Xavi (ESP), Andres Iniesta (ESP), Xabi Alonso (ESP), Arjen Robben (NED), Robin Van Persie (NED), Rafael Van Der Vaart (NED), Arturo Vidal (CHI), Alexis Sanchez (CHI), Claudio Bravo (CHI), Tim Cahill (AUS), Lucas Neill (AUS).

The crunch match
Spain-Chile: This all-Spanish-speaking duel on the second matchday of Group B could end up shaping both sides’ tournament fortunes. The two Rojas’ meeting will be their fourth in just four years, following Spain’s 2-1 win at South Africa 2010 and two friendly games. And, given Chile grabbed a 2-2 draw in the pair’s most recent encounter, Sanchez and Co will feel confident of claiming a first ever victory over La Selección.


Last World Cup: Winners Nickname: La Roja (not all teams have nicknames as good as the Africans) Coach: Vicente del Bosque Star man: Andres Iniesta Tourname...

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Last World Cup: Runner up Nickname: The Tulips/Orange Coach: Louis van Gaal Star man: Robin van Persie Tournament best: Runners-up 1974, 1978, 2010 Van...

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Last World Cup: Round of 16 Nickname: La Roja Coach: Jorge Sampaoli Star man: Alexis Sanchez Tournament best: Third 1962 Chile boast a good combination o...

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Last World Cup: Group stage Nickname: The Socceroos Coach: Ange Postecoglou Star man: Robbie Kruse Tournament best: Last 16 2006 The Socceroos qualified ...

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