• Spain
  • Netherlands
  • Chile
  • Australia
  • Prediction
  • Matches
Tab 1
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Spain
(*plays atmospheric chord on ‘Spanish’ guitar*)

Ah yes, Spain. Ever since my first World Cup experiences in the 1970s, Spain were always being described as dark horses (DARK HORSE KLAXON), which basically meant they turned up, disappointed and were generally a bit rubbish.

And then after a few decades they got a bit good, took over the world of soccerball and won everything. Although this was clearly thanks to Xavi’s well documented fixation with Matt Le Tissier. So what to expect in 2014? Well according to the guide propped up in front of me, with the football chattering classes looking at Germany and Brazil as the firm favourites, ‘Spain have managed to take on a familiar mantle of old – the role of dark horses’. Doh.

Which is probably daft, seeing as Vicente Del Bosque’s side happen to be reigning World and European champions, and are set to travel with one of the most talent-stuffed squads ever seen at a World Cup. If a team can afford to leave Alvaro Negredo or Pedro on the bench, then it must have a decent stab at the title. Then again, no-one has won consecutive World Cups since Brazil in 1958 and 1962. But you’d think they’d make the semis at least.


Skooba


Tab 2
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Netherlands
(*plays steam organ music to conjure up images of Amsterdam*)

I’ve always loved the Dutch, with Johann Cruyff being my second ever man crush after Mick Channon. They always have good kit (although obviously they should forever play in the old skool adidas version) and they always go a bit bonkers during the tournament. Quite good at fouling also.

In between taking calls about Luke Shaw, Holland’s Manyoo-bound manager Louis van Gaal dreams about being the first coach to deliver gold to the Dutch - they’ve been finalists three times, you know, including four years ago - and it would surely be the high point of an impressive managerial career.

However, Holland are now without defensive lynchpin Kevin Strootman (knee), leading some to fear that the Dutch team will be exposed – and while you’d wanna fancy any team with Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, half of the squad have less than ten caps. Or is it fewer? Anyway, expect fireworks, qualification for the next stage and an implosion around the quarter final stage.


Skooba


Tab 3
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Chile
(*plays clip of identikit South American flute-type music*)

I was in a restaurant the other day and someone was raving about a new Chilean-Japanese fusion place just around the corner. At the mention of which I didn’t pick up my half-full bottle of Peroni and smash it across his pretentious forehead because a) that’s the world I live in, and b) it gives me an intro. What do I know about Chile? Not much.

It says here: “Since Jorge Sampaoli took over and resurrected Marcelo Bielsa’s style, Chileans don’t stop running; everything they do, they do fast.” So expect lots of speed, and other South American white powder references. The fixtures with Spain and the Netherlands will be authentic style battles: when an opposition side needs time to build up play, facing Chile is a nightmare – everything has to be sped up considerably.

All well and good, but the Chilean methodology apparently also leads to inevitable mistakes and distractions, especially in the back three or four, and prompts dangerous physical challenges that can lose them men. All that effort can be thrown away in a minute... So let’s enjoy their three group games before they go home.


Skooba


Tab 4
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Australia
(*plays theme from Neighbours*)

I work with lots of Aussies – they’ll email me things like ‘good work, champ’, they’re good at drinking and I like them. There’s one bloke I recently started working with who I spent much of a train journey with from Birmingham to London two months ago discussing the merits of Rickie Lambert (he’s a huge fan). Unfortunately he’s also a Liverpool fan, so clearly I’ve gone off him in the last few weeks.

Anyway, ‘the Socceroos’, what can we expect from you? Not much, it seems. Rarely can a nation have approached a World Cup in which they expect to do so very, very badly with so much optimism. The road to an almost inevitable fourth spot in the group promises to be interesting.

Then again, they still have Tim Cahill playing for them, even though he must be approaching his mid-40s by now, while, er, ones to watch include Curtis Good (great hip hop name), Matt Spiranovic and Brugge keeper Mat Ryan befitting, whose club manager Michel Preud’homme played at USA 94 and won the Yashin Award for best goalkeeper. So bottom of the group, then.


Skooba


Tab 5

Skooba's Prediction

1. Spain
2. Netherlands
3. Chile
4. Australia

Skooba


Tab 6

Group 'B' Matches


  1. Spain 1-5 Netherlands - 13th June 2014
  2. Chile 3-1 Australia - 13th June 2014
  3. Australia 2-3 Netherlands - 18th June 2014
  4. Spain 0-2 Chile - 18th June 2014
  5. Australia 0-3 Spain - 23rd June 2014
  6. Netherlands 2-0 Chile - 23rd June 2014

Click here for match reports.


Group Table


As at 23.06.14

Country

P

W

D

L

GD

Pts

Netherlands

3

3

0

0

7

9

Chile

3

2

0

1

2

6

Spain

3

1

0

2

-3

3

Australia

3

0

0

3

-6

0

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