Group at a Glance: Spain, Holland, Chile, and Australia. The clear cut storyline is the rematch of the 2010 World Cup final facing each other to kick off the group. The Dutch lost to Spain in 2010, but will look to get a bit of payback by trying to kick off Spain’s attempt at a repeat without points in the first match. The Dutch also look to finally break through, after having finished runner-up three times without ever becoming champions. In a November friendly at Wembley Stadium, Chile beat England 2-0 thanks to a pair of goals from Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez. Australia will simply be out manned and out classed in this group. They have been in poor form of late, and there isn’t an easy match in the group.
Favorites to Advance: Spain is by far the favorite to advance, and should be able to do so relatively easily, but the second spot might not be as straight forward as it seems. ESPN actually gives Chile a near 75% chance to advance, Holland just about 40%. 2014 might be the last chance for the Dutch with their big three still in their relative prime. Robin Van Persie, Aren Robben, and Wesley Sneijder will all be 30 at this World Cup, so it could be their last chance to make a run deep into the tournament. The Chile-Holland match will determine who is the second team to advance from the group, and I give a slight edge to the Dutch.
Player(s) to Watch: The most intriguing player might be Chile’s Alexis Sanchez. At the club level, he is stuck behind Lionel Messi and Neymar, but he has the chance to be the star for Chile at the World Cup. The best goal scorer in the group is Manchester United striker Robin Van Persie, and needs to have an excellent tournament for Holland to do well. Spain is the most talented squad in the world, so really anybody that takes to the pitch for them is a player to keep an eye on.