Sport

Road to Rio

Group B

Yakum Fitz-Henley

Tuesday, April 22, 2014    

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European Bigwigs vs the Outsiders

Spain

Spain, the title-holders, are arguably stronger than last time around, and can never be seen as anything less than cup-contenders despite the alien territory.

Appearances: 14 - First in 1934

Wins: 2010

Road to Rio: Spain qualified as group winners over France, Belarus, Georgia and Finland.

Key Players: Spain has key players all over the pitch, however, here are a few: Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), David Silva (Manchester City), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona) Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)

Coach: Vicente del Bosque

Strengths: World-class players all over the pitch. The addition of Diego Costa seems to make them complete with an in-form, strong, and clinical striker at their forefront.

Weakness: Defense can be suspect at times and if the opposition can get a hold of the ball at all perhaps they can exploit it. They have lacked penetration previously but will hope Diego Costa can end that.

Expected finish: If Spain doesn't win the Cup, it is hard to see them leaving Rio before the final.

Netherlands

The Oranje, last Cup's runner-up, have a rich history in football but have never one on the world's biggest stage. Though weaker than last time out, they will be hoping to cop their first title.

Appearances: Ten - first in 1934

Wins: None - runners-up in 1974, 1978 and 2010

Road to Rio: comfortably qualified as winners of Group D of qualification.

Key Players: Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) Siem de Jong (Ajax)

Coach: Louis van Gaal

Strengths: Netherlands has great depth in goalkeeping talent but their key players are their strength. The have pace, penetration and finishing in some very good players.

Weaknesses: With Kevin Strootman very unlikely to be fit, and Wesley Sneijder not firing, Holland will have to rely on unproven players for creativity from the midfield. Defense also suspect.

Expected finish: Netherlands will be hoping for at least a semi-final berth, however teenAGE can't quite see them leaving the quarterfinals.

Chile

Chile, a typical South-American outfit with flair and a bit of a bite, have started producing more and more brilliant players for the European leagues and could surprise a few teams.

Appearances: 10 - First in 1930

Wins: None - third in 1962

Road to Rio: Chile was third in CONMEBOL, behind Argentina and Colombia

Key players: Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Gary Medel (Cardiff)

Coach: Jorge Sampaoli

Strengths: Bite, skill and goals from midfield make Chile a dangerous outfit for any team to play. Their top players, Vidal and Sanchez, are among the best in the world at what they do.

Weaknesses: It doubtful that Chile has the quality personnel at the back to deal with some of the world's best attacks.

Expected finish: At best, Chile could very well surprise Netherlands by pipping them, however, they are not expected to leave the group stage.

Australia

The Socceroos can never be said to lack spirit, however, in the context of World footballer it is highly complimentary to call them outsiders.

Appearances: Four - 1974, 2006, 2010, 2014

Wins: None - best finish was a round of 16 finish in 2006

Road to Rio: Runner-up in AFC, behind Japan

Key Players: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace)

Coach: Ange Postecoglou

Strengths: The Aussies have an indomitable spirit and a goal-threat from reasonably clinical strikers.

Weaknesses: They simply lack the quality over the field to compete at the top.

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