Group B

Netherlands striker Robin van Persie. Netherlands striker Robin van Persie.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
11:22 AM

A group that brings together the reigning world champions – and runners-up. Who can forget that awful final four years ago when Spain slugged it out with the Netherlands in a match that was more akin to a night out at York Hall than the grand finale of the so-called beautiful game.

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Spain won 1-0, but for the puritanical among us there were no winners. It was an awful advertisement.

The Spanish at their best are mesmeric: it is almost total ball possession.

The Dutch are more expansive: but will coach Louis van Gaal’s post-tournament departure to Manchester United affect them? They can be a cantankerous lot.

Sadly, it doesn’t bode well for Chile and Australia who, all things being equal, will be battling with each other to avoid the wooden spoon.

• Spain

Manager: Vicente del Bosque

Star player: David Silva

Previous record: Holders

Summary: A team of artists, known for eroding the opposition’s confidence. They do have a dark side: Sergio Ramos is easily their most uncompromising player. Lots of experience in the side: have they had their day?

• Chile

Manager: Jorge Sampaoli

Star player: Arturo Vidal

Previous record: 1962 third place

Summary: Had a change of coach during the qualifying campaign when a sharp downturn in form saw Argentinian coach Claudio Borghi replaced by compatriot Jorge Sampaoli. Very attacking side.

• Netherlands

Manager: Louis van Gaal

Star player: Arjen Robben

Previous record: R-up 74, 78, 2010

Summary: Three-time losers in finals, including the terrible advert for football four years ago against Spain. Cruised through qualifying – Germany were the only side on the continent to score more goals than their 34

• Australia

Manager: Ange Postecoglou

Star player: Tim Cahill

Previous record: Group stages

Summary: Still relying on their experienced performers to get them through. Inconsistent in qualifying, which cost coach Holger Osieck his job in October after successive 6-0 defeats against Brazil and France.

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