Breaking Down Spain's World Cup 2014 Group Stage Opponents

Tre' AtkinsonFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2013

Breaking Down Spain's World Cup 2014 Group Stage Opponents

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    The World Cup groups have been drawn and things look difficult for the reigning champions. Spain will be looking to lift the trophy for the second time in a row but will have to make it through a group containing the Netherlands, Chile and Australia.

    In this article we will take a look at Spain's three group stage opponents and how they will likely fair against their rivals.

    Feel free to get involved in the discussion below and let us know how you think Group B will go down and where La Roja will finish!

Netherlands

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    When the Dutch were drawn in the same group as Spain, there seemed to be a moment of shock. The two European sides faced off in the final of the last World Cup and their meeting in Brazil will likely be just as dramatic.

    The Netherlands may not be as strong as they were in 2010, but they do boast a very talented and experienced side including the likes of Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie. 

    The men in Orange ran away with their group in the qualifying stages and sent a message to the rest of Europe. Holland is back to being one of the most competitive sides around and they will fight in Brazil.

    The days of having a defensive approach to football are gone. Under manager Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands has become an attacking side that likes to build up play from the back.

    Their attacking presence and desire to build up play could both help and hurt Spain.

    La Roja would be wise to press the Dutch while being careful not to be caught out on the counter. There will be more space for Spain to utilize, but they cannot afford to let the game open up too much or the Netherlands will take advantage.

    With Spain being the favorites to win the group, the Netherlands should put up a major fight for the second-place spot.

Chile

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    As odd as it may sound, Chile will be Spain's biggest opponent in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup.

    The Chileans have proven to be a very promising side and could even be one of the biggest surprises of the tournament. They defend well, build up play and are extremely strong in attack. To put it simply, Chile can do it all.

    Chile really can beat you in many different ways. Their unpredictability will make them a difficult opponent for Spain and their strength and speed will likely put the reigning champions on the back foot a few times.

    The South Americans have only lost two matches in 2013 with their last defeat coming at the hands of Brazil in a friendly.

    However, Chile has not been playing easy matches this year. 

    In November, the Chileans defeated England in a friendly match by the score of 2-0 which opened the eyes of the footballing world. They have showed that they are a force to be reckoned with.

    Chile also played Spain in September with the match ending in a 2-2 draw. If that match was any indication of how they will test the reigning champions in the group stages, Spain might have a real challenge on their hands.

    Led by Alexis Sánchez and Arturo Vidal, Chile is full of attacking talent. Gary Medel also gives the midfield real strength and an identity of not giving opponents anything easy.

    Chile are arguably the favorites to finish second in the group, but they will surely give Spain a challenge. 

Australia

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    To put it nicely, Australia will not be much of a challenge for the rest of Group B. They qualified for the World Cup by finishing second in their group, but that will likely be the most they achieve in the tournament.

    Australia's defense has been known to go missing against talented sides. They just don't have the players needed to take down a side like Spain and are expected to struggle in the group stage.

    Their attacking presence is also quite faulty. None of their forwards regularly play against top opposition, meaning they will struggle to find the back of the net against Spain, Chile and the Netherlands.

    Australia is at an odd time in their footballing history. They should be proud to be in the World Cup and will gain much from facing the likes of Spain. But this is as far as they will go.

    The biggest fight in Group B will be for second place, and with goal difference always a factor, this group may just be decided by who performs the best against Australia.

     

    How do you see Group B playing out? Will Spain win the group? Who will pose the biggest threat to the reigning champions? Leave your thoughts and comments below!