The tough Group B features defending WC champions and two-time defending European Champions Spain, defending runners-up Netherlands, highly competitive Chile and always gritty long shots Australia.


Key Players: almost all the key players (Xavi, Iniesta, goalkeeper Iker Casillas) from the recent tour-winning sides are returning, minus only retiring defensive leader Carles Puyol (Puyol’s friend and Shakira-mate Gerard Piqué is hoping to fill the void by appearing again in one of Shak’s World Cup music video’s, for the Carlinhos Brown-penned song ‘La La La (Brazil 2014)). As no European side have ever won a World Cup based in South America, Spain are also welcoming the attacking advent of former Brazilian international striker Diego Costa. The 2014 La Liga-winning Atletico Madrid player is taking horse placenta treatments for a knee knock in advance of the tournament, as well as this weekend’s Champions League Final derby against CR7’s Real Madrid.

Bus Slogan: Inside Our Hearts, The Passion of a Champion — a little too Julio Iglesias, although it could work if delivered by Javier Bardem.

Best Place to Watch the World Cup: El Parque de Retiro’s drum circle in Madrid, just don’t have too much beer, chicken or hash…the isle of Formentera wouldn’t be a bad alternative…and remember that ‘Els Bels’ from Carry On Abroad doesn’t exist.

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Key Players: This is the boy band squad of the tournament, as the already young-looking Dutch are going with a youth movement, courtesy of soon-to-be Manchester United coach Louis Van Gaal. Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, defenders Joël Veltman and Daryl Janmaat, midfielder Daley Blind and striker Klaus-Jan Huntelaar could see their wall poster potential increase significantly beyond their country’s diked borders.

Bus Slogan: Real Men Wear Orange — could be seen as protesting a bit too much, but should be a shoe-in with Giants baseball fans in San Francisco. They will quickly have a chance to prove themselves in their first game, a re-match of the last WC’s very brutal final with Spain.

Where to watch the World Cup: the Melkweg in Amsterdam, appropriately named as stars (and likely Brazilian ones) are going to figure heavily in the Netherlands’ fate, on one level or another. Plus there’s great music.

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Key Players: Chile is all about frenetic attack, perhaps it’s the blood red shirts. Alexis Sanchez of Barcelona and the injury-doubt Arturo Vidal of Juventus are the main spearheads. Long-time Luis Suarez-nemesis Gary Medel, at the moment of recently relegated EPL side Cardiff City, is the fire hydrant.

Bus Slogan: Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le! Go Chile! — I think FIFA should have used their discretion to wait a little longer for something better to come along. It seems like something Shakira and Carlinhos Brown were commissioned to write. Perhaps no one wanted any references to their 1962 hosting of the World Cup, known as one of the most violent ever, or any other unsavory polemic episodes in their late 20th Century history, which still live on in the deep rivalry between Chilean soccer sides Colo-Colo and Universidad de Chile.

Where to Watch the World Cup: surprisingly Los Angeles and greater California could be in the running for this, as many Chileans have migrated to Southern California as far back as before and after the Mexican American War, and were involved with the founding of Los Angeles among other major californian cities…There is definite potential for a Chile – Mexico clash in the second round…Chile seems to be making a play for Hollywood props, with the national beer Cervesa Cristal producing an extremely well-done series of YouTube spots showing players on the national team acting out classic horror movie memes to strike fear in the hearts of their Group B opponents, among other squads.

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Key players: Crystal Palace Midfielder and vague Eric Bana look-alike Mile Jedinak has just been named captain, and he is backed up by aging New York Red Bulls and former Everton star Tim Cahill and Marco Bresciano, who has spent a good deal of 2014 suspended for an apparently illegal transfer between a Qatari Football Club to a United Arab Emirates club. Shocking.

Bus Slogan: Socceroos: Hopping Our Way Into History! — certainly bad enough to make one want to BECOME history, unless they have some intricate WWII-Pacific Theater island-hopping parallel strategy in mind, perhaps allowing them to bypass a few impossible matches.

Where to Watch the World Cup: Sydney’s Enmore Theatre is already out front in opening its doors all-night (early games start at 2am) for Australian and Greek games (huge Greek ex-pat/immigrant population in Australia)…promises to be a rave if nothing else.

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