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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Football

Casillas unhappy with World Cup draw format
AFP
Madrid, December 08, 2013
First Published: 22:07 IST(8/12/2013)
Last Updated: 20:35 IST(9/12/2013)

Spain captain Iker Casillas has said he doesn't believe the world champions should have been paired with Holland in their group for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

The world champions will play the Dutch in their first game on June 13 in a repeat of the 2010 final which Spain won 1-0.

A highly regarded Chile side and Australia make up Group B and the draw is even more complicated for Spain and Holland as whoever finishes second in the group will most likely face tournament favourites Brazil in the last 16.

"It is true that I don't agree how they did the draw," he said on Sunday.

"In any case it is not us who decide how they do it and where they decide which team is better than another.

"It was a difficult draw for the team. We start against the runners-up in the World Cup, who have also had a fantastic qualifying campaign.

"Then Chile, against whom we found hard to beat in the last few years. But, in the last few tournaments, like in South Africa, we have stumbled in the first game and in the end beaten strong nations like Germany and Italy."

Casillas is wary though that knocking the reigning world and European champions off their perch could act as an extra incentive for Spain's opponents.

"We need to continue with the intention of winning the first match and then see what happens. I can believe the others looks at us as favourites for what we have done, but we are aware that although they praise us, they are also motivated to play against us and beat us."

Casillas' Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo also faces a tough task just to get through the group stage as his Portugal side were drawn against Germany, the United States and Ghana.

Ronaldo almost single-handedly ensured his country's participation next summer with a stunning individual display as he scored all four goals in their 4-2 aggregate playoff win over Sweden last month.

And having won the Champions League and league titles in England and Spain, the 28-year-old is desperate to enhance his legacy with victory in a major tournament.

"I know what it is like to lift an important trophy like the Champions League. In a World Cup the feeling would be even better, something you would never forget.

"My dream, like everyone here, is to win a big tournament like the World Cup or the European Championships, but we need to keep our feet on the ground and go step-by-step. Only the best can win and I hope that Portugal are amongst the best."

The toughest task of the opening round of fixtures in Brazil though has arguably been handed to Croatia who will open the tournament against the hosts in Sao Paulo.

However, Croatia's Luka Modric believes his side can enjoy the experience as they have nothing to lose against the tournament favourites.

"The game will be special for us because it is the opening game of the world cup and the whole world will be watching us.

"Brazil is one of the favourites but I am sure we will give them a tough match. I can't wait to play the game and especially against my teammate Marcelo. They are going to be under pressure."


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