World Cup Preview and Predictions: Group B

IMAGE, FOOTBALL FEDERATION AUSTRALIA

Brazil and Croatia whet the appetites of soccer fans worldwide — and the teams in Group B will surely continue that trend

There is certainly an interesting mix of talent and background with this bunch.  Right off the bat, Spain will take on the Netherlands in a rematch of their 2010 World Cup final.  That game will be followed by a heavily-overlooked Chile vs. Australia encounter — one that may just surprise uninformed onlookers.

While Group G has earned the distinction of this tournament’s ‘Group of Death,’ the members of Group B are formidable in their own right.  The clear favorites are Spain.  The defending champions are older, but every bit as dominant as past incarnations.  The Dutch promise a different look under Louis van Gaal.  His three-man backline is a clear departure from much of the modern game, but promises to make the Orange both potent on offense, and stacked on defense.

Chile bring an exciting element to this grouping.  Defensively, they have not been as consistent as year’s past.  They advanced from CONMEBOL qualifiers with a goal differential of +4 thanks to their 29 goals-for and 25 goals-against in 16 matches. Their scoring total was second only to Argentina amongst qualified sides, but their goals-allowed matched the highest of the bunch.  Head coach Jorge Sampaoli has continued former manager Marcelo Bielsa’s tact of high press, high offense soccer that will make for some entertaining matches.

Finally, there is the group underdog — Australia.  New York Red Bulls talisman Tim Cahill plays a major leadership and offensive role in this young side.  Skipper Mile Jedinak joins veteran Mark Bresciano and Tommy Oar to form a respectable midfield, but their defense and goalkeeping corps are woefully inexperienced.

[colored_box color=”green”]SCHEDULE:[/colored_box]

June 13th: Spain vs. Netherlands, Chile vs. Australia
June 18th: Australia vs. Netherlands, Chile vs. Spain
June 23rd: Spain vs. Australia, Netherlands vs. Chile

[colored_box color=”green”]EOS PREDICTIONS:

FINISH COUNTRY WIN LOSS DRAW POINTS G/D
1 SPAIN  2  0  1  7  +4
2 NETHERLANDS  1  0 2  5  +2
3 CHILE  1  1  1  4    0
4 AUSTRALIA  0  3  0  0  -4

[/colored_box]

Spain 2-2 Netherlands
Chile 2-1 Australia
Netherlands 4-2 Australia
Spain 2-1 Chile
Spain 3-0 Australia
Netherlands 2-2 Chile

After a modicum of revenge in the opening match for the Orange, Spain will take the group behind the possession-style dominance that has made them one of the world’s most feared and respected teams.  Xavi and company may be some years older, but that will do little to slow La Furia down.  van Gaal’s Holland will be an interesting team to watch throughout the tournament.  Formations aside, the Dutch have a history of performing in South America.  Robin van Persie leads a veteran frontline, while Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Nigel de Jong compose the club’s formidable midfield.  That core alone make the Dutch a dangerous opponent.

Chile is the wildcard of this group.  On their run-up to the Cup, the team’s defense performed exceptionally against the likes of Brazil and Germany.  If they can keep form, the Dutch may find themselves on the outside looking in.  While a scrappy bunch, Australia is out classed in this group.   Cahill is good enough to find gold on the occasional cross (even at the age of 34), but managerial changes and a far-too-green side will leave the Socceroos winless.

RELATED LINKS:

EOS GROUP A WORLD CUP PREVIEW
EOS STAFF PREDICTIONS FOR WORLD CUP