European Champions and World Cup favourites Spain entertain Chile, Honduras, and Switzerland in a group that many are tipping to be the most entertaining during the tournament.
Group H : Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile
Group H is another tough group to call. Spain should sail through so the real battle is for second, between three evenly matched teams. And it is in effect another Group of Death, albeit of a different level.
Spain is one of the favourites and rightly so. The current European Champions play a sublime brand of football that has seen them lose only one of their last 46 matches, 2-0 to the USA, including winning 15 of their last 16 matches.
They boast Fernando Torres and David Villa up front, Xavi, Iniesta, and Fabregas in the middle, and Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique at the back, as well as Iker Casillas in goal.
They have suffered their fair share of problems in midfield in the build up to their kick off with Switzerland on June 16.
Marcos Senna missed out through injury, while Cesc Fabregas and Iniesta did not play the final part of their respective club seasons and Xavi was forced to play through the pain barrier for the last month of Barcelona's title-winning run as persistent niggles took their toll.
The reigning European Champions will go far in this tournament, but their mental strength will be questioned as never before.
Switzerland have a tradition of being a well organised dogged team, and under the wily old tactician Ottmar Hitzfeld nothing has changed.
Defensively, they are very well drilled and extremely difficult opponents to score against, while Alex Frei is more than capable of scoring important goals. They will look to capitalise on set pieces and could easily nick second.
The Swiss were the only western European side to lose to a team outside that zone in 2006 when they were beaten by Ukraine, on penalties.
Like New Zealand, the last time Honduras qualified for a World Cup was in 1982.
Catracho are a rapidly improving side, boasting a number of players who ply their trade in England. Tottenham's midfielder Wilson Palacios and Wigan duo Hendry Thomas and Maynor Figueroa are easily their most well known players.
Currently, there is political upheaval in Honduras and it will be interesting to see what frame of mind they take to South Africa. That being said, they will be massive underdogs to qualify.
In 1982, Honduras came within two minutes of knocking hosts Spain out of the tournament, only for an 88th-minute goal by Vladimir Pertovic to see them home instead.
Another team who have not been seen at a World Cup in some time is Chile , although they did manage to finish third in 1962 in that lone appearance.
It is some statement when your team is labeled as the most attractive footballing team is South America, more so when it is ahead of the likes of Brazil and Argentina. But that is exactly the position that Chile find themselves in.
A rapid-fire, counter-attacking team with tons of speed and flair, Argentine coach Marcelo Biesla has transformed Chile's ambitions. Humberto Suazo was the top scorer in South American qualification and will see this World Cup as a shop window for his vast array of talents.
Their squad is also the youngest of all 32 nations in the World Cup, averaging out at just 23 years of age.
Bravery is their forte, and naivety is their bane. Chile could upset a few teams this year.
Runners up: Chile
Fixtures in Group H:
Match (15) June 16—Honduras vs. Chile (Mbombela Stadium, 43,589)
Match (16) June 16—Spain vs. Switzerland (Moses Mabhida Stadium, 70,000)
Match (31) June 21—Chile vs. Switzerland (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 48,459)
Match (32) June 21—Spain vs. Honduras (Ellis Park Stadium, 62,567)
Match (47) June 25—Chile vs. Spain (Loftus Versfield Stadium, 51,762)
Match (48) June 25—Switzerland vs. Honduras (Free State Stadium, 48,000)
Players To Watch:
Alexis Sanchez (CHI), Carlos Pavon (HON), Eren Derdiyok (SWI), Jesus Navas (SPA)
Spain has never lost to Honduras, Switzerland, or Chile in an international match.
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This article was first published on Tiger Beer Football where Willie Gannon is the featured blogger.