(Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia)
The favorite: Spain. The reigning World and European champions aren’t as dominant as they once were, but it’s premature to call time on the Spanish dynasty. Striker Diego Costa’s fitness will be key to Spain’s success in later rounds.
The sleeper: Chile. England got a taste of how good Chile is in a 2-0 defeat in London in November. The Netherlands’ big hopes for the tournament could be dashed if it’s not ready for Alexis Sanchez and Co.
Player to watch: Arturo Vidal, MF, Chile. The Juventus all-around midfielder, if healthy, is the perfect antidote to Spain’s tiki-taka style. He’s a hard-nosed tackler without the ball, and with it, he’s capable of starting attacks from deep or popping up in the final third to finish them.
Predicted order of finish: Spain, Chile, Netherlands, Australia
Spain vs. Netherlands (Fri., 3 p.m., ESPN); Chile vs. Australia (Fri., 6 p.m., ESPN2);
Australia vs. Netherlands (June 18, noon, ESPN); Spain vs. Chile (June 18, 3 p.m., ESPN); Australia vs. Spain (June 23, noon, ESPN2); Netherlands vs. Chile (June 23, noon, ESPN)
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