Group B is the only group where both teams who will advance have already been decided before the final set of matches. That would ordinarily make for a drab affair with little drama. Netherlands and Chile both have 6 points after two matches, with Netherlands having the superior goal difference thanks to their destruction of Spain.
Thus, the scenarios in Group B are fairly straightforward.
- Netherlands wins the group with a win or draw versus Chile;
- Chile wins the group with a win over Netherlands;
- Spain and Australia are eliminated.
However, other incentives could make for a very entertaining game between the already open and attacking Chile and Netherlands sides. Sometimes, the difference between winning and finishing 2nd in a group is minimal when it comes to the bracket draw. That is not the case, though, for the winner of Group B. Here’s how the bracket looks as of today.
The Group B winner draws 2nd place from Group A, and in the same side of the draw, the Group D winner vs. Group C 2nd place. As of right now, the most likely scenario is that the Group B winner will face Mexico or Croatia, and then if they advance, get the winner of Costa Rica vs. Ivory Coast, to reach the World Cup semifinals.
The 2nd place team, on the other hand, would likely face the following path to the World Cup semifinals: versus host Brazil in the Round of 16, then versus the winner of Colombia and Italy/Uruguay.
Yes, none of those positions are set in stone, but Costa Rica is in good shape on both goal difference and the fact that Italy and Uruguay could draw, to claim the group even with a close loss to England. Colombia has a pretty solid grip on the Group C top spot, and Brazil would have to play poorly versus a dreadful Cameroon side to not win Group A.
Which would you rather face?
Netherlands will be without Van Persie missing the match with two yellow cards already. Defender Stefan De Vrij will play while carrying a yellow card. Chile will rest Arturo Vidal, who is not 100% fit and does have a yellow card, but will otherwise field a full squad including Charles Aranguiz, who scored the first goal against Spain, and Eugenio Mena, both carrying yellow cards. I expect that the players who are in the lineup will attack and play to win, I would take the over on goals scored, and not expect a 0-0 draw as both just sit back and advance.