Team previews provided by Jeevan (@JeevanSD_MMA)
Mexico vs Cameroon
Kickoff 11am CT
Mexico - I still can't believe that Vela decided to stay away from the Mexico squad. Playing in the World Cup is the goal for most players. I hope he made the right call for himself. Onto the squad, Peralta and Hernandez are essential to this squad, and Dos Santos is to a lesser extent. MLS fans know all about Marquez, (do I need to say anything else?). I was impressed with the U23 squad they sent to London 2012 ( Herrera looked like a quality player - at least I think it was him ), I thought they would turn into a real force, but the qualifying campaign wasn't great. Strikers need goals to get confidence, and you need games to get goals. Hernandez hasn't played as much as he would have liked this season, and it will be interesting to see how he performs, especially as a good World Cup will encourage big clubs to bid for him. Does the manager drop him in favour of someone who played and was in-form?
Cameroon - Cameroon have a decent squad (players like Mbia, Song, Eto'o, Nkoulou etc), but I can't see them having a good time in this World Cup. Kameni hasn't made the squad, because of the fact that he is now second choice at his club. Samuel Eto'o is still a threat to most defences , and their best route to success will be to play on the counter-attack. Vincent Aboubakar had a very good season with Lorient, and will certainly improve Cameroon's attack. They have a good combination at CB & CM. They don't have a creative midfielder, and that will be an issue for them, their midfield will have to work very hard. They will need Alex Song to be accurate with any long passes that he attempts.
Check out the SBN preview for Mexico
Check out the SBN preview for Cameroon
Spain vs Netherlands
Kickoff 2pm CT
Spain - I can't wait to see how Costa reacts to the reception he will face from Brazilian fans. This Spanish squad has accomplished everything! Well, almost everything, they will be motivated by the fact that they could become the first team in a long while to retain the trophy. Their star midfielder has aged (as you would expect, it has been 4 years since WC10) and quite a few are coming off long seasons that weren't as successful as they hoped. They have a great back 5 (Casillas,Azpilicueta, Ramos, Pique, Alba) with 2 deep midfielders (Alonso, Busquets) just in front of them. Xavi will be deeper than he used to be, and he isn't as good as he was (thought he is still pretty darn good). Silva and Iniesta will be key to their attack in the final-third, and then add that they can call on players like Fabregas, Mata, Pedro and others if they need to . We also have to consider the fact that Costa is not fit, would they use a false-9 (Cesc) or give Torres/Villa a chance? I was really impressed by him this season, and it was awful seeing him getting subbed in the two biggest games of season due to injury, I hope he is fit for this tournament.
Netherlands - I enjoy watching Holland play, their 3-5-2 formation is interesting. Robben and Van Persie are world-class attacking players, and they should trouble all 3 defences they face in the group. The midfield is solid, with 2 wing-back/midfielders. We all know about Wesley Sneijder, he is a top level midfielder. I haven’t seen too much of Clasie, but judging from that pass that set-up RVP in a friendly game, he looks like a real talent (I’m not really judging him off one pass). De Jong is best known to World Cup fans for a tackle in the 2010 final that should have resulted in him being sent off. It is a real shame that Kevin Strootman is injured, his energy and ability will be missed. Roma were happy to let Bradley move on because of Strootman, he is a world-class midfielder. I don’t think their defence is good enough to get them into the next stage. This World Cup might have come too soon for some of their promising centre backs.
Check out the SBN preview for Spain
Check out the SBN preview for Netherlands
Chile vs Australia
Kickoff 5pm CT
Chile - The movement of Vargas and Sanchez is going to be key to how Chile perform. Their weak point is their defence. I saw Jara at West Brom, he should do an acceptable job for Chile. I liked Medel when he was in La Liga, he's a pitbull who gives 100% and will battle any player that is near him, but the centre back role is not his best position. They will need their wing-backs, Isla and Mena, to be bombing up and down the sides. Alexis Sanchez was magnificent in South Africa, his time at Barcelona has been hit-and-miss due to different reasons, but I expect him to be at his best. Alexis Sanchez in form has the movement, pace and attacking ability to threaten any defence he faces. I have to mention Arturo Vidal, one of the best midfielders on the planet. And to think that Bayern Munich wanted him. There are rumours that Man Utd and Real Madrid are willing to pay up to $60m for him, and I understand why. A tremendous talent in the middle of the park, can score goals and can also help out on the defensive side. These are their two world-class stars, and they will need both on form. I hope Vidal is fit, he recently had surgery. I was impressed with Chile against England in an international-friendly, and they were missing players! I also think the climate will help them, as the European teams could struggle with the climate.
Australia - I became a very big fan of Mile Jedinak this season. He was outstanding for Crystal Palace in central midfield. They will need him to lead by example, especially in the games where they won't see much of the ball, and chasing after the team with possession is very tiring and can impact your attitude. Any real attacking threat will probably come from Tim Cahill, and that will be strongest on set-plays.
Check out the SBN preview for Chile
Check out the SBN preview for Australia