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Persie Control; Preview of World Cup's Group B

Taken from worldfootballdaily.com

Preview:

This group features Spain and Netherlands  who will play a replay of the final in 2010, in South Africa. In that final the Spanish outplayed the Dutch who seemed more concern with the dark arts of football, particularly injuring Spanish players, then actually performing. Who can forget the ghastly tackle (if you can even call it that) which Nigel De Jong put on Xabi Alonso. The Spanish would go on to win the World Cup in extra time through an Andres Iniesta strike, and would gain their first World Cup. The Dutch still seek their first World Cup, as do the other two teams in this group, Australia and Chile.

Key Points:

Spain - The Spanish are a love them or hate them type of team, either you enjoy seeing the possession style known globally as tiki-taka, or you can't stand the sight of the Spanish national team. Love them or hate them, their style is effective. The Spanish boast a midfield which is incomparable, able to field two, maybe even three world class teams just based off of their midfielders. However for many, this may be their last chance to shine on the big stage. Xavi is now 34 years old, and age is beginning to catch up to the maestro, Xabi Alonso is also getting up their in age, just two years Xavi's junior. The Spanish also have Andres Iniesta, often regarded as the worlds best midfielder, Sergio Busquests, the best holding midfielder, and then many players based in the Premier League, including David Silva, Juan Mata, and Santi Cazorla. Who will start remains a question, however expect the Spanish to win the group, and go on to challenge for the world title again. 

Netherlands -  The Dutch will be favorites to get the second spot in the group, after Spain. However, their are injury doubts looming over captain Robin Van Persie. Van Persie was injured for much of the season for Manchester United, struggling with knee problems, and now faces a fitness race to get ready for the World Cup in the form of a groin problem. Assuming he will be fit and ready to go for Louis Van Gaal, he will be expected to lead a side which also has Wesley Sneijder, who is coming off of a good season for Galatasaray, but is also aging. Along with Sneijder and Van Persie, the Dutch also have Arjen Robben, one of the leading wingers in the world who can turn any game on its head. The Dutch will be expected to finish second in the group and advance again to the knockout round. 

Australia -  Ah the socceroos, always a fan favorite at the tournament, they are in a tough place this year being drawn into the same group as the reigning world champions and the team who finished runner up. The socceroos will struggle to earn a point at this years world cup as they face stiff competition. Tim Cahill will lead the line for the Aussies and will hopefully be able to bring success to the team down under. 

Chile - A dark horse in this group, who I would not be surprised if they beat out the Netherlands for the second spot in the group. The Chileans boast some superstars coming off the back of good seasons for clubs. Alexis Sanchez finally found his feet in Barcelona and was able to shine for the Catalan club and Arturo Vidal is coming off of another great season for Juventus and is becoming one of the best midfielders in the world. He is being chased by teams all over the world for a reason, and despite a knee injury, look for him to shine at this years World Cup, and look for the South Americans to maybe send the Dutch home early. The Chileans will be much better suited for the South American climate, and will be hungry for more success on the grandest stage of all. I expect a battle for the second spot, and am predicting the Spain, Chile game to be the best one of the group. 

Matches & Predictions:

Matchup  Date  Time (-5:00) EST  Prediction 
 Spain vs. Netherlands Fri, 13 June  3:00 pm 1-0
 Chile vs. Australia Fri, 13 June 6:00 pm 1-0
 Australia vs. Netherlands Wed, 18 June 12:00 pm 0-1
 Spain vs. Chile Wed, 18 June 3:00 pm 2-1
 Australia vs. Spain Mon, 23 June 12:00 pm 1-3
 Netherlands vs. Chile Mon, 23 June 12:00 pm 2-1

Final Table Prediction:

Team  GP  GF GA  GD  PTS 
Spain 6  4 9
Netherlands 3 2  1 6
Chile 3 4  -1  3
Australia  1  5 -4 0
By Antonio Lynch

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