Lothar Matthaeus during the draw for 2014
World Cup finals, on Friday. (Reuters)
Costa do Suipe: With the group-stage fixtures for next year’s Fifa World Cup announced, the coaches or the participating nations are weighing the pros and cons of their groups they are placed in and the resultant fixtures.
For defending champions Spain, the group seems a little complicated. Their coach Vincent del Bosque told Spanish television: “We can’t say we were handed an easy draw. It’s a complicated group (Group B) with tough sides. It’s going to be difficult.”
On Chile, the only team Del Bosque had mentioned he would not like to meet in the group stage, he said: “Their style of play is very impressive, they make it very uncomfortable for the opponents.
“They are very hard working, a very difficult team.” The other two teams in their group are the Netherlands and Australia.
“The Netherlands… still have dangerous players up front in Robin van Persie, (Wesley Sneijder), and (Arjen) Robben.” On the opening game against the Netherlands, he said: “We have to be prepared from Day I.”
The Netherlands coach, Louis van Gaal, said: “We have to play the world champions, we have to play Australia who we have never beaten and Chile was 3-0 up recently against Colombia before it ended 3-3, so they are not a weak team. The opponents are tough, but for the playing conditions it is not too bad.”
Van Gaal noted that if the Netherlands progress from the group stage they will have to play one of the team’s from Group A, headed by Brazil. “You travel north and the playing conditions get worse,” he said.
Placed in Group E with Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras, France’s coach Didier Deschamps said: “It could have been more complicated. Another good thing is that we won’t play in the northern regions, where the temperatures and the level of humidity are very high and the distances are very long.
“We open against Honduras and not Switzerland, the seeded team, so that’s an ideal situation. It’s a favorable order of play but only if we win this first match.”
England coach Roy Hodgson told the BBC: “It’s a tough group… In Italy and Uruguay it’s almost as though we have got two No. 1 seeds in our group. We know how good Italy are…
“The game is going to be tough from the climate point of view for both teams.”
“We have a difficult group — maybe the most difficult —but usually when we come up against difficulty, we arrive prepared,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told RAI state TV. “We’re going to have to sweat it out.”
Italy beat both Uruguay and England in penalty shootouts in their last official meetings.
“It isn’t so much who we play, but how we’ll play them,” Prandelli said, adding that the difficult travel schedule and midday matches will also play a role.
Germany coach Joachim Loew said dealing with the humidity and heat will be the biggest challenge. “I accept it as it is, we have no influence anyway.
“The main thing is that we know where we’ll play and we can take the next step in preparing for this World Cup,” he said. “We have to get used to the incredible humidity and the heat.
“Our opponents are old friends, we played Ghana in 2010, we played Portugal at the 2012 Euro,” he said.
German team officials had dinner with German legend Jurgen Klinsmann last night, who is now coaching the US. “We have a very close relationship,” said Loew, who was Klinsmann’s assistant at home in 2006.
Klinsmann, speaking to German TV, said: “Football produces crazy stories ... Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo, Ghana, which eliminated us the last two times. It couldn’t have been a tougher group.”
Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis is optimistic. “This (Group C) is a tough group with tough teams - all of them. But I am optimistic because we respond to challenges well.”
“I have to say we were fortunate,” Russia coach Fabio Capello said, placed in group H with Belgium, Algeria and South Korea. “But when you get to this point every match is dangerous. One good thing is that we won’t play in northern Brazil.”
“There’s no big or small team in the World Cup finals,” Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic said. “…Belgium are the group’s favourite… but we will certainly not go to Brazil for sightseeing.”
Croatia coach Niko Kovac said: “Now that we are in such a hard group, then it is good that we are opening the World Cup against Brazil. It will be a great opening, tiny Croatia against great Brazil.”