Spain players go through their paces during a training session, 6 JuneReuters

Spain and the Netherlands, after that fiery, ill-tempered, far from for-the ages final in the 2010 World Cup will renew hostilities in the Group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, with Chile and Australia looking to take advantage of any slipup from the big two.

The first match of Group B will be between the two giants of European football, with Spain looking to get their title defence off to a roaring start against last time's runners-up.

The core of the Spain squad is pretty much the same as 2010, with very little changes to the side that deservedly won the World Cup in South Africa courtesy that goal from Andres Iniesta in extra time.

While Spain have not been quite as impressive over the past couple of years – the thumping handed out by Brazil at the Confederations Cup last year a case in point -- there is little doubt that they will be there or thereabouts come the business end of the tournament.

The unrelenting effect of the tiki-taka style of football might be on the wane, if the manner in which Barcelona have been beaten by big teams over the last couple of seasons is taken into consideration, but Spain are a little more than just keeping possession and passing their opponents to death.

In Vicente Del Bosque they have a mightily impressive and experienced manager, and while their striking department might look a little thin, especially if Diego Costa fails to recover from injury, that midfield is packed with quality.

It is that midfield that the Netherlands will have to negate if they are to make a winning start at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with Louis Van Gaal's men coming off a brilliant qualifying campaign. Van Gaal has peppered his squad with plenty of youngsters, who will give the Dutch that unpredictable quality, while the likes of Robin Van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben will be again expected to push their team all the way to the final one more time.

Robin Van Persie Netherlands
Robin Van Persie will look to lead from the front for the NetherlandsReuters

Holland are among plenty of teams in the second batch of favourites, with Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany at the top of the pile. The Netherlands are tipped to finish second in Group B, behind Spain, but they might want to steal first place from the defending champions, as the second-placed team from Group B are likely to play Brazil in the round of 16.

Looking to upset the applecart of Spain and the Netherlands will be Chile and Australia. Chile have a couple of match-winners in their squad, with coach Jorge Sampaolo espousing an attacking style of play, which has caught the eye.

Australia, in transition, look like being the bottom-dwellers, but the fact that they have nothing to lose, and are expected to finish fourth in Group B, might just let them express themselves more, with plenty of youngsters in the squad, no doubt, set to play without the fear of failure.

Key men: Spain: The obvious choices are Xavi and Andres Iniesta, but Koke, if given an opportunity, might just make Spain tick that little bit more. Also a lot of the goalscoring onus will be on Costa, assuming he overcomes his injury woes.

Netherlands: Van Persie was in supreme scoring form during the qualifiers, with 11 goals, and the Dutch skipper will be vital to Van Gaal's hopes of making another final. Robben was terrific for Bayern Munich this season and will get in amongst the goals as well. Also Jordy Clasie might be a player to watch out for.

Chile: Much will depend on midfield duo Arturo Vidal and Gary Medel, while Alexis Sanchez will have the opportunity to show the world just why he was so highly-rated when Barcelona paid bucket-loads of money to get his signature.

Australia: Plenty of players who are not exactly household names in the lineup, and it will be interesting to see if the experience of the likes of Tim Cahill, Mark Bresciano and Mile Jedinak can push this side to cause a few upsets.

Fixtures: 13 June: Spain vs Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador

13 June: Chile vs Australia at Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba

18 June: Australia vs Netherlands at Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Allegre

18 June: Spain vs Chile at Maracana, Rio de Janeiro

23 June: Australia vs Spain at Arena da Baixada, Curitiba

23 June: Netherlands vs Chile at Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo

Prediction: As expected, Spain top the group, with Netherlands close behind as Chile just fail to have that extra bit to take them past the two European sides. Australia cannot pick up a single point in a disappointing World Cup.