Group B features the 2010 World Cup winners and runners-up in Spain and the Netherlands. Chile and Australia round out the group, but they should not be seen as completely inferior competition in what will be a hotly contested group stage.
The current World Cup holders are also ranked number one in the FIFA rankings. Their team is filled with well-known stars from around the world. It is also a team that has changed very little from their 2012 European Cup win. Their backline is aging, but should still be solid enough.
Bovada puts Spain at 6/1 to win the World Cup this season, which would be an unprecedented fourth straight major title as well as making them the third repeat winners of the World Cup (Brazil and Italy having done it previously).
This year’s Dutch team is one filled with unknowns. Manager Louis van Gaal is set to join Manchester United after the World Cup ends and has brought in a large number of young players. This has left the team with very little in the way of expectations. Most fans would be very surprised to see them do as well as they did last time around. Still, they have a solid veteran spine and excellent attacking options, even with Kevin Strootman and Rafael van der Vaart ruled out.
Bovada rates them at 25/1 to win this year’s World Cup.
This South American team could bring some surprises. They should not be treated lightly despite having few stars. They do have Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal to spearhead their attack and both will certainly cause some problems and get some goals.
The Aussies are even more of an underdog than Chile, but, again, they should not be treated as such. They have qualified for the World Cup for a reason and will make it difficult for everyone in the group. Tim Cahill is perhaps their best known player, having previously spent time at Everton in the Premier League. He is joined by Crystal Palace’s midfielder, and Australia’s team captain, Mile Jedinak.
Spain – winners
The Netherlands – Runners-up
Chile – Third
Australia – Fourth
Spain has too much talent and could even go on to win the Cup. As winners of the group they will face Group A runners-up, most likely Mexico or even Croatia. The Netherlands, as runners-up would then face Group A winners, which will almost certainly be Brazil. The more I think about it, the more I feel that the Netherlands have more than a good chance to win the group as well as progress quite far in this tournament, dare I say, even win it.