LincSport World Cup Preview: Group B

Dubbed the group of death by many pundits, he is Lincsport’s preview of the toughest group at this years World Cup.

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Australia

Key players

Captain Mile Jedinak has been key in helping Crystal Palace’s recovery this season and will need to be on form. Tim Cahill will be a strong presence in attack as Everton fans will know and the inclusion of veteran Mark Bresciano will also be handy for the Socceroos.

Manager

Ange Postecoglou might not be a household name in the United Kingdom, but he is notable in his homeland for his two league titles with South Melbourne. He also has managed some of Australia’s youth sides and won four international caps as a player.

Overview

While they are starting to become part of the furniture at World Cups, Australia have again been dealt a bad hand. The team is not looking bad at the moment and it is currently an intruiging blend of younger, more experienced and new players.

Verdict

Pacific neighbours Tahiti were notable in Brazil last summer for the wrong reasons and with three strong opponents it is hard to see how they will make an impact. Winning one game would be an achievement, but they will probably be on the plane home quite early.

Chile

Key players

Goalkeeper and captain Claudio Bravo brings the experience to the side. Cardiff midfielder Gary Medel gives the midfield some clout while Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez has averaged a very solid one goal every three games for his country.

Manager

Like 2010, Chile are going to be managed at the World Cup by an Argentinian. Jorge Sampaoli had a brief playing career in his homeland before taking to the dugout. He has managed clubs in Peru and Chile and was in charge on Universidad de Chile until 2012.

Overview

Chile can justify their status as one of South America’s strongest nations and well and truly arrived back on the world stage in 2010. As England know they have skill, flair and could be a dark horse.

Verdict

They are the only other team apart from Spain and Holland who have a realistic chance of qualification beyond the group stage, but will need to beat at least one of them to help their cause. Despite their attributes, it might be a case of heading home with Australia.

Netherlands

Key players

The main men for the Dutch will most likely be some of the usual suspects. The still talented Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder will be key in attack and the goals-to-games ratio of Robin van Persie makes him another asset.

Manager

If you have not heard of Louis van Gaal yet then it is probably worth asking where you have been hiding. To cut a long story short, he is a successful and resilient club manager whose job after the World Cup is to rescue Manchester United.

Overview

Still a strong side who will inevitably be one of the favourites. However they will need to put their Euro 2012 travesty aside, but their attack is probably stronger than their defence at present so they will need to pose a threat going forward.

Verdict

The pressure to succeed was already on, but it the expectation will be even heavier on van Gaal as a good World Cup is a must ready for when he moves to Old Trafford. They should reach the last eight, but winning the group gives them a better chance of getting there.

Spain

Key players

It is hard to know where to begin when you have a team this talented. Nonetheless, captain Iker Casillas is still a strong option in goal and the likes of Xavi, Fabregas, Iniesta, Silva, Villa and Alonso will all have an important role to play.

Manager

Vicente del Bosque is showing there has never been a better time to be the manager of Spain. He masterminded their 2010 triumph as well as their Euro 2012 crown and has an incredible 81 per cent win rate in charge of the team.

Overview

Still spoilt for choice in midfield and still mean business. Their qualification was straightforward and their football is still easy on the eye despite some saying it is painstakingly dull. Make of it what you will.

Verdict

The Spanish are still the force to be reckoned with, although Brazil might not agree after beating them in the Confederations Cup final last year. They should be in contention to win it again and anything less than a final appearance would be a huge disappointment.

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