2014 World Cup Group B Betting Preview

2014 FIFA World Cup – Group B
Thursday, June 12 – Sunday, July 13, 2014

Host Nation: Brazil
Defending Champion: Spain
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker

Spain, the defensing champions highlight Group B in the 2014 World Cup.
Spain, the defending champions, highlight Group B in the 2014 World Cup.

There are no easy groups in the World Cup, but some are less challenging than others. Group B is certainly not one of those less challenging groups. It contains defending World Cup champion Spain, the team they beat in the 2010 Final the Netherlands, and two very good teams in Chile and Australia. I don’t know if Group B is the so called “Group of Death” because group G (Germany, Portugal, Ghana, and USA) might be slightly better top to bottom.

Let’s take a look at the four teams in Group B with their odds to win both the Group and the World Cup with odds courtesy of Bookmaker.

Spain (-132 group, +565 Cup)

Since 2008, Spain has won not only the World Cup but the European Championship twice. Still the Spaniards are only the third choice to win the World Cup behind Brazil and Argentina. Besides being really good, Brazil and Argentina have the advantage of playing the World Cup on their home continent. No European nation has ever won the Cup in the seven times it has been held in North or South America. Spain was seeking to win four straight FIFA tournaments but lost to Brazil in the Final of last year’s Confederations Cup also in Brazil.

Spain is currently #1 in the FIFA World Rankings. The 2010 title was their first World Cup. Spain is playing in their 10th straight World Cup.  Spain won their UEFA qualifying group with a record of 6-0-2, with the draws coming at France and Finland. Spain outscored their opponents 14-3 in their qualifying group. Spain is coached by Vicente del Bosque.

Spain has arguably the best goalkeeper in the world with Iker Casillas.  The rest of the team is very deep  and talented as well. The roster is loaded with such world class players as Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Pedro, David Villa, Fernando Torres, Pedro, Cesc Fabregas, Alvaro Negredo, plus defenders  Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba.

Spain opens with a rematch from the 2010 Final against the Netherlands, then faces Chile and Australia. It is important for Spain to win the group because otherwise they could face Brazil in the round of 16. If they win the group then they get a much easier match-up with likely either Croatia or Mexico. Possible quarterfinal opponents include Colombia, Uruguay, England and or Italy. I think Spain makes it to at least the semifinals.

Netherlands (+265 group, +3250 Cup)

The Netherlands are #15 in the FIFA rankings. They breezed into the World Cup by only suffering one draw without a defeat. The Dutch finished 9 points clear of Romania in the group to clinch the automatic berth in the World Cup.

The Netherlands have never won the World Cup, but have been the runner-up three times including in 2010 in South Africa. The Dutch are coached by Louis Van Gaal, who will leave the national team after the World Cup to take over Manchester United.

Jasper Cillisen is the goalkeeper. The Dutch are led by Robin van Persie, but he has been injury prone in his career. He must stay healthy if the Nehterlands are going to make a serious run. Other key players include Jermaine Lens, Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben, Kevin Strootman, and Daryl Janmaat.

A round of 16 match-up with Brazil could await if they finish second in the group. The Netherlands eliminated Brazil in the quarters in  2010. It is no guarantee the Dutch even make it out of the group, because after Spain they take on Australia and then Chile.

Chile (+375 group, +4050 Cup)

Chile is #14 in the FIFA rankings. They have played in 8 World Cups and their best finish was third in 1962. They lost to Brazil in the round of 16 in 2010, and could face them again. Chile is coached by Jorge Sampaoli. He took over after Claudio Borghi was fired after 3 straight defeats in qualifying.

Chile started off qualifying in South America by earning 12 points in the first 6 games. Then came four straight losses, including Sampaoli’s debut against Peru. Chile then finished qualifying with 5 wins and a draw. Chile scored 29 goals in qualifying but gave up 25.

Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas, Matias Fernandez, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Bravo, Gary Medel, Jorge Valdivia, Jean Beausejour and Marcelo Diaz are the key players. Claudio Bravo minds the net.

Chile can score with anyone, but the defense is suspect. That will be their undoing against teams like Spain or the Netherlands or their nemesis Brazil. I don’t see this team getting out of the group.

Australia (+4000 group, Cup field +1415)

Australia is #62 in the FIFA rankings. The Aussies are playing in their fourth World Cup. They went to the round of 16 in 2006 but lost to Italy. The Socceroos were eliminated in the group stage in 2010.

Australia got off to a rocky start in Asian qualifying. They barely made it out of their opening group to go into the final group. Australia had draws against Japan and Oman before a stunning loss to Jordan put them in danger. Still, they rallied and clinched an automatic berth in the final game of the group with a win against Iraq. In October, Australia was crushed 6-0 by both Brazil and France in friendlies. That cost coach Holger Osieck his job. He was replaced by Ange Postecoglou who coached Melbourne Victory in the Australian League.

Tim Cahill is a world class forward. Australia’s slim chances to advance became even more remote when defender Lucas Neill was left of the final 23 man roster and midfielder Brett Holman retired from the national team at only age 30 two weeks before the roster was announced. Maty Ryan is the keeper.

Australia has a lot of talent but they are simply not as good as the other three teams in the group. It would be a huge upset if they get more than a draw against the others.

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