Globe and Mail sports columnist Cathal Kelly will be covering the World Cup in Brazil. Here is his look at who to watch and what to expect in Group B.
Sort of like the Spain that won its last three major tournaments, but – with the addition of Brazilian-cum-Spaniard Diego Costa – even better. This Spain side is already the most laurelled in history. The question is – how badly do they want more? A win here, and they are the best team ever. In any sport.
For no good reason other than that the Netherlands is the Netherlands, you can already sense portents of doom, all of them positive. The finalists from four years ago breezed through qualification. They’ve haven’t turned against each other yet. They look good to go. That worries me.
If you do not have a rooting interest in this tournament, allow me to introduce to Chile. This team is not merely poor at defending. It is anti-defending. Chile beat you by piling in goals and hoping you’re too tired to get down to the other end. Possibly the most delightful side to watch in world football.
How long was that plane ride over? Twenty-three hours? Ouch. And the time difference? Oh, geez – 13 hours? Here’s the good news, Australia. Your last opening round game is ten days after your first. So your jet lag should be wearing off just as its time to head home.
Player to Watch: Alexis Sanchez, Chile
A stallion in a world of domesticated thoroughbreds, Sanchez is the frantic, unhinged genius of the Chile set-up. An early tip for Golden Boot winner.
Game to Watch: Netherlands vs. Chile, June 23rd
Chile refuse to defend. Netherlands cannot resist a challenge to their offensive masculinity. This game has a baseball score written all over it, and will likely determine which of the two moves on.
Predicted Order of Finish: Spain, Chile, Netherlands, Australia