Del Bosque warns against complacency
Group B: Spain face tough title defense
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque said it could have been worse after La Roja were drawn against Holland, Chile and Australia in the group phase of next summer’s World Cup.
• Brewin: Group B predictions and preview
The reigning champions were drawn as the seed in Group B and will face their Oranje opponents from the 2010 final, the dangerous South American dark horses and the supposed group outsiders from Down Under.
Del Bosque told AS he was fairly happy with the hand he and his team had been dealt.
"We must not see this as an easy group -- it will be difficult," Del Bosque said. "I do not believe it is a 'Group of Death'. There are other groups which are stronger. But it is difficult."
Asked to assess Group B’s other teams, Del Bosque said: "Chile’s football is uncomfortable for rivals, they press you a lot, with good players, quick and with class. Holland have changed a bit since 2010, above all from midfield back, but they have maintained that spine with players like [Arjen] Robben and [Robin] Van Persie. Australia are the least well known, but we should not underestimate them."
On starting against the Dutch in a rematch of the 2010 final, Del Bosque said he had had a premonition that would happen.
"I said this morning that we would get Holland in the first game, and look what happened," he said. "What fortune! It is up to us to be very good from the first day. The Dutch will demand the best from us. From there, it could all depend on us and our mental preparation."
Whichever team finishes second in Group B will face the Group A winners in the last 16 -- likely be hosts Brazil, who beat Spain 3-0 in last summer’s Confederations Cup final.
The former Real Madrid boss said this put extra pressure on Spain to ensure they won their pool.
"I imagine Brazil will be first in their group, so we must make a big effort to be first ourselves too," Del Bosque said.
Asked about the travel and climate conditions involved, with Spain playing their first game in the hotter north of the country, then two in the [relatively] cooler south, Del Bosque was also positive.
"We will get closer to the colder temperature, bit by bit," he said. "You just have to accept it, nothing else."
Meanwhile, Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli was upbeat despite the potential of three tough ties including the winners and runners-up from the 2010 tournament.
"To do something important in a World Cup you must beat the best teams," he said. "This is a really hard group due to the quality of the opponents.
"We are playing against the world champion and runner-up, plus Australia make themselves strong for these big games."
"We must prepare very well and with a lot of respect, knowing we are playing against superior teams but that our collective play could be key."
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal did not agree with Sampaoli and bemoaned the draw. "It is the worst of the groups," he said. "If we get through we play against Brazil, which is the biggest favourite for the competition.
"For that it is so difficult. It will be tight until the end between Spain and Holland. Spain is naturally a challenge for us. I saw Chile against Colombia and they are a good team. And our record against Australia is very bad. This is not our preferred group, but I always have confidence. I hope Spain are not in their best form."