Spain Plays Netherlands; Brazil Awaits: World Cup Group BDex McLuskey
World Cup Group B provides what looks like the best game of the 48 in the first stage: a rematch of the 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands. How far each nation will go in the 2014 tournament might be decided when they meet on June 13 in Salvador. Chile, given 50-1 odds to win the tournament by the Las Vegas Hotel’s SuperBook, might be involved in that discussion.
* 2010 And All That: The last time the Dutch faced Spain, they lost the final 1-0 four years ago in Johannesburg. They haven’t lost a match in the 2014 qualifying campaign, winning nine with one draw and getting 11 goals from Robin van Persie.
* Avoiding the Host With the Most: Victory for Spain or the Netherlands probably would mean they would avoid facing tournament favorite Brazil until the July 13 final, according to analysis by Bloomberg Sports. A loss could mean a second-round encounter with the host nation. Bloomberg Sports predicts a 0-0 tie, with Spain winning the group over the Dutch. The winner of favorite Brazil’s group faces the runner-up in Group B in the first game of the second round.
* Spoiler Alert: Chile, which should beat 62nd-ranked Australia in its first game, is positioned to have a say in how the group plays out. With a fast, fluid style -- typified by the pace of Barcelona winger Alexis Sanchez and the playmaking of midfielder Arturo Vidal of Juventus -- Chile earned 2-2 draws against Spain and Brazil and a 2-0 victory against England in London since April 2013. World No. 14 Chile may provide a stern test for the Netherlands and Spain, which beat Chile 2-1 in the group stage at the 2010 World Cup.
* Schedule: June 13 -- Spain vs Netherlands, Chile vs Australia; June 18 -- Australia vs Netherlands, Spain vs Chile; June 23 -- Australia vs Spain, Netherlands vs Chile.
* Bloomberg Sports’ Title Chances: Spain - 9.1%; Netherlands 3.9%; Chile 1.2%; Australia 0%.
* Group A Report: Runner-Up to Brazil Provides Most Excitement: World Cup Group A
Runner-Up to Brazil Provides Most Excitement: World Cup Group A