COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil (AP) — Defending champion Spain will play its opening World Cup game against the Netherlands, a repeat of the ill-tempered 2010 final, while host Brazil faces a relatively easy path to the knockout stage after Friday’s draw.
The draw was full of bad news for the United States, which has the toughest group and the worst travel schedule. The U.S. opens with African power Ghana on June 16 on the coast in Natal, then plays Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo in the Amazon rain forest city of Manaus. The Americans then go to back to the northern coast to play Germany, one of the favorites, in Recife.
“I kind of had in my stomach that we were going to get Germany,” said U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who played for Germany’s 1990 World Cup championship team and coached his native country to third place in 2006. “Obviously it’s one of the most difficult groups in the whole draw.”
Brazil starts its campaign for a sixth World Cup title with an opener against Croatia.
Mexico, which struggled this year to qualify, and Cameroon are also in the group.