Expectations for the FIFA World Cup 2014 - part II
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Here is my second part:
Group B: Spain
Strengths: Spain is the defending World Cup Champion and in addition to this, the squad has also won the last two UEFA European Championships. Even though Brazil managed to beat Spain during last year's FIFA Confederations Cup, the Spanish style of playing hasn't lost anything of its efficiency. Real Madrid has won the 2013-2014 UEFA Champions League against their rivals Atlético Madrid and many players from the national team like defender Sergio Ramos or left midfielder Koke had a brilliant performance in this final. The 2013-2014 UEFA Europa League was also won by a Spanish team with Sevilla FC. Especially young Spanish players are still hungry for titles and the current squad of the national team is still filled with some of the world's greatest players.
Weak points: The Spanish tiki-taka style of play has taken the soccer world by storm over the past years and many other teams are now able to play it on a very high level. The Spanish style of play has become a little bit predictable after all and the team is not as dominating anymore as it had been over the past six years. The threat that some of the veterans in the team aren't as hungry for another title as many other teams who have been standing in line in the past is also real.
Expectations: The Spanish squad could make it to the finals but should lose to Brazil.
Squad from March 5, 2014 against Italy (copyright: Spanish Football Sports)
Group B: Netherlands
Strengths: The Dutch squad made it to the last World Cup finals where the Elftal lost against Spain. This time the two squads already meet at group stage. The squad still includes some of the world's greatest and most successful midfielders and fowards such as Nigel de Jong (A.C. Milan), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray S.K.), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (FC Schalke 04), Robin van Persie (Manchester United F.C.) and Arjen Robben (FC Bayern Munich).
Weak points: Oranje is going through quite some changes these days. Many young talents are in the squad that have few or no World Cup experience at all and that have played less than ten games for their national team. Controversial head coach Louis van Gaal will go to Manchester United F.C. after the World Cup and will be replaced by Guus Hiddink. The team's star players showed a weak performance during the 2012 UEFA European Championship where the team lost all their games. Current results of the squad aren't excellent either. The Flying Dutchmen lost against France earlier this year and only made a draw against the underdogs from Ecuador at home.
Expectations: The squad will probably survive the group stage but not the round of 16 where the team could already meet Brazil.
Netherlands' squad on May 17, 2014 against Ecuador (copyright: Associated Press / The Hindu)
Group B: Chile
Strengths: Chile has a rather experienced squad with a lot of players in their late twenties and only a few youngsters and veterans. The squad is on form: out of their last fifteen matches, Chile only lost three. The underdog is playing without any pressure in this year's death group of the tournament. They can also count on the support of the enthusiastic South American soccer fans.
Weak points: Some important and promising players are currently injured or still recovering from recent injuries like star player Arturo Vidal (Juventus F.C.) but also the experienced Mathias Fernandez (ACF Fiorentina) and Pablo Hernandez (O'Higgins F.C.) who had scored twice in his very first game for the squad earlier this year.
Expectations: Chile has a strong team but due to several unlucky injuries and a really tough group they won't probably make it to the round of 16.
Chile's squad on March 5, 2014 against Germany (copyright: Lennart Preiss / Bongarts / Getty Images)
Group B: Australia
Strengths: Australia has become better and better over the last few years and played very solid World Cups in 2006 in Germany as well as in 2010 in South Africa. The team has started to integrate a couple of promising young talents like goaltender Mathew Ryan (Club Brugge K.V.), defender Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo), midfielder Tom Rogic (Celtic F.C.) and forward Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets FC). The future looks bright for the squad and they play without any pressure in this tournament.
Weak points: The young players in the squad have few to no World Cup experience. Apart of forward and vice-captain Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), the team has no experienced star player. The team hasn't been particularly successful in its last matches either. Australia lost against Romania (2:3), Brazil (6:0), France (6:0), Japan (3:2) and the People's Republic of China (3:4) in 2013 and against Ecuador (3:4) in 2014. They were not able to win their last game either and only got a draw at home against South Africa (1:1). Especially the defense still requests a lot of improvement.
Expectations: Australia doesn't seem to have a chance against Chile, the Netherlands and Spain. I guess they won't survive the group stage of this tournament.
Australia's squad on May 26, 2014 against South Africa (copyright: Reuters UK)