Group B has suddenly become one of the most exciting of this World Cup tournament. With the Netherlands topping the group, thanks to their demolition of Spain, they are now in control of the group and have put the reigning champions on the back foot.
In the second round the Netherlands takes on Australia while Spain faces Chile, who also impressed in their first round match.
Spain v Chile
Yes, Spain lost their first match of this World Cup, just like they did four years ago in South Africa. This time, however, there is a much different feel about it. They weren’t just beaten, they were ripped apart in what could have been much more than the 5-1 it ended up as. It will be interesting to see if Del Bosque decides to drop Iker Casillas in goal. My personal opinion is that he should have played David De Gea in match one, but now, thanks to a hip injury, the only other option is Pepe Reina. Spain’s back line is aging and not very quick, which requires a real shot stopper in goal.
The first round loss could also spell the end of their experiment with a center forward and, either put Diego Costa on the bench, or have him pull back to more of a False 9 role. Either way, it was clear that he didn’t fit with Spain’s tactics in the first match.
Chile come into their second match sitting second in the group following their 3-1 win over Australia. They have an excellent chance of taking something from this match. Arturo Vidal should be available for this match and should cause problems for Spain.
Alexis Sanchez was the real star for Chile in the first match, and he will again showcase his talents against Spain’s struggling defense. I would expect him to score, though, if he doesn’t, he will be able to create space for someone else.
Don’t count Spain out just yet. This is going to be the key match for them. Anything other than a win leaves them in a very precarious position. On the other side, a win for Chile puts them in excellent position to move on to the knockout round.
My prediction is a draw. I think there will be goals in this one since both teams have some defensive issues. Spain have already shown that they can be gotten at and Chile have the power and speed to get something out of this one, even a win. A win for Spain will just be a return to the narrative for them, however, anything else will be seen as a shock and lead to more questions.
Spain v Chile meet on Wednesday, June 18 at 3pm on ESPN and Univision.
Australia v Netherlands
This is a must win match for both teams, but even more so for the Netherlands. Anything other than a win for them will be seen as a capitulation. Australia are certainly a team that should not be underestimated. While they may have lost 3-1 to Chile they got off to a slow and rather nervous start. They have some talented players and could push the Netherlands.
The Netherlands are certainly flying high after their 5-1 destruction of Spain. While they can take this momentum into Wednesday’s match, they also need to be wary that they do not get complacent. They will need to play every bit as hard to get a win and continue their excellent team play.
My prediction is another Netherlands win. They will probably line up similarly to their match against Spain, but look to push forward much more often without as much of a focus on playing on the counter attack.
Australia v Netherlands kicks off on Wednesday, June 18 at 12noon on ESPN and Univision.