It is hard enough losing in the Final of a FIFA World Cup™, but it seems to be a particularly cruel twist of fate to kick off your next final tournament bid against the team that denied you the coveted Trophy. What's more, whoever qualifies from Group B – a section with a heavy South Africa 2010 flavour – could find themselves facing host nation Brazil in the Round of 16. Here is how the four head coaches involved see the task ahead:
Vicente Del Bosque, Spain
Everything depends not just on our opponents, but on ourselves and the way we mentally approach this competition. We were hoping to have a less difficult group. We’ve got two teams that we know very well, though the Netherlands have changed a lot since 2010. They make the game very uncomfortable for their opponents. They’ve got the same key attackers but under Van Gaal their system’s different and they’ve several new players. We know Chile very well, as we’ve played them a few times, and they’re not an easy team to play against. They’ve got very gifted and experienced players, who give you a really tough game. Australia are a little less well-known, but they have qualified from the Asian Zone and I imagine they also have good players. I expect that Brazil will finish first [in Group A] and so we have to give everything to make sure we win our group, too.
Louis Van Gaal, the Netherlands.
You can’t really do anything about it, but it's fair to say that it's not a good draw for us. We will play Spain, the reigning world champions; Australia, who we have never beaten; and Chile. But I’ve already played against Spain before, in my first spell as Netherlands coach. We played them in Seville and won, so why shouldn’t we beat them again? (Smiles) But well, Holland are ninth in the FIFA Ranking and Spain are first, so who do you think are favourites? Of course, it’ll be a replay of the 2010 Final. Chile will be difficult, they’ve got players like Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal… they’re a very tough team to beat. I saw them play against Colombia when they went 3-0 up and they showed that they are a good team. If we qualify we could end up meeting Brazil, the tournament favourites, [in the Round of 16] which makes the task even more difficult. So, it's not the best of draws from a Dutch perspective: I would have preferred Group H. We do not have a lot of time to prepare either after arriving in Brazil, so it's also a bad draw in that respect.
Jorge Sampaoli, Chile.
Forget about Brazil! First you have to qualify [for the Round of 16] and this is a very tough group. We’re not afraid of anybody though and we’ve got to show real greatness to put Chile up there with the best. It’ll be hard, but a difficult group motivates you to prepare well so you’re ready to face the best, to want to make history. They are loads of factors that are more positive than negative. We’ll play against two big names in Spain and the Netherlands that almost always qualify from their groups. Chile face a huge challenge but if we overcome it the team will really grow. Del Bosque didn't want Chile, but we didn't want Spain either.
Ange Postecoglou, Australia
This is a tough group. We’ve got a very young squad and this will be a great opportunity for them to pick up experience. And well, the way I see it, this is the World Cup. It’s the best football nations on the planet and we will embrace the challenge that lies ahead of us. We will see some great football played in our group and it’s up to us to play a part in that. We wanted to play some big nations. We want to test ourselves against the best nations on the biggest stage.