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Spain gets tough draw for World Cup group stage

Holder will face the Netherlands, Chile and Australia in opening round

Former soccer Wold Cup winners Cafú, Cannavaro and Zidane during the draw for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
Former soccer Wold Cup winners Cafú, Cannavaro and Zidane during the draw for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.Victor R. Caivano / AP

Spain will play the Netherlands in its opening World Cup match in a replay of the 2010 final after the nations were drawn together in Group B for the 2014 tournament in Brazil. Also grouped with the reigning champion were Chile and Australia, two teams with the ability to frustrate Vicente del Bosque’s side. But of even more concern than the group is the possibility of meeting Brazil in the last 16: the host and favorite to lift the title plays Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon in Group A, with the first-place team in each to face the runner-up in the other group.

Portugal was placed in Group G, which will probably earn the unwanted epithet of the group of death, with Germany, Ghana and the USA. The latter two both navigated their groups in 2010, with Ghana beating the USA on penalties to reach the quarterfinals.

“It’s a difficult group,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said after the lavish draw in Costa do Sauípe. “We cannot presume this is an easy group, it’s very complicated. There are other tough groups, such as Uruguay, England, Italy and Costa Rica, but ours is not easy either. But it is good for our mentality. When there are opponents that are not as strong we can find it difficult to concentrate. The Netherlands will certainly demand a lot of us.”

On the possibility of facing Brazil should Spain not finish first, Del Bosque was succinct: “I believe Brazil will win their group, so we have to make a great effort to be top as well.”

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