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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Football

World Cup 2014: The countdown begins
AFP
Costa do Sauipe, December 07, 2013
First Published: 00:20 IST(7/12/2013)
Last Updated: 07:39 IST(7/12/2013)

Reigning champions Spain will begin their defence of the World Cup with a rematch of the 2010 final against the Netherlands in Salvador on June 12 next year after the finals draw was made on Friday.

Spain, who beat the Netherlands 1-0 in the final in South Africa thanks to a solitary extra-time goal by Andres Iniesta, were also handed a repeat meeting with Chile, having defeated the South Americans in the group stage last time around.

Australia complete the line-up in a tough-looking Group B, but there were arguably even tougher draws elsewhere.

England find themselves in Group D along with Uruguay, Costa Rica and Italy. A meeting with Uruguay, the 2011 Copa America winners and semi-finalists at the last World Cup promises to be a hard enough test for England in their second match in Sao Paulo on June 19.

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However, before that they must face Italy in their opening game in the heat of northern city Manaus on June 15 in a repeat of the Euro 2012 quarter-final, which Italy won on penalties.

Germany and Portugal were drawn together in a testing Group G that also included Ghana and the US.

The two European nations will meet in their first match in Salvador on June 16.

The draw was kinder to host nation Brazil, however, as they seek to make up for their failure to lift the trophy when they last hosted the finals in 1950.

Luiz Felipe Scolari's side will face Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon in Group A, with their opening match against the Croatians in Sao Paulo in June 12.

That will be the first game of the month-long competition, which will also see Argentina take on Iran, Nigeria and debutants, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Group F.


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