Van Gaal: Argentina, Brazil are favourites

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has installed host nation Brazil and arch-rivals Argentina as favourites for the FIFA World Cup.

Six World Cup finals have been held in North, Central or South America since the first in Uruguay in 1930 and they have all been won by South American nations.

While Van Gaal rates the chances of reigning champions Spain and mentioned Portugal as a contender for the upcoming World Cup, the 62-year-old believes Brazil and Argentina are clear favourites to be crowned world champions.

"The favourites are Brazil or Argentina, because the statistics point out that a South American team always wins in South America," Van Gaal said at his press conference in the Portuguese town of Lagos on Monday.

The Netherlands have been pooled with Spain, Chile and Australia in Group B in Brazil and will begin their campaign with a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final against Vicente del Bosque's Spaniards on June 13.

Van Gaal's team will then play Australia on June 18 and Chile five days later.

Spain defeated the Dutch 1-0 four years ago to claim their first world title and, although Van Gaal admits his team are not as good as the reigning champions, he insisted there is not too much between the two sides.

"Spain is the most difficult game. They are the world champions but, maybe you remember, the 2010 final, we could have won," the next manager of Manchester United said.

"If Arjen Robben scores the big chance then we would have won. It always depends a bit on luck.

"I think we always have a chance because we have very good players in our squad but normally Spain are better.

"Spain are top of the world rankings and we are number 14. It's always difficult to beat number one."

With the Netherlands conducting their initial training camp in Portugal, the local media were keen to hear Van Gaal's take on Paulo Bento's men.

Van Gaal declared it will be 'difficult' for Portugal to win their maiden World Cup in Brazil but maintained they 'can beat anyone'.

"I always think that Portugal is a challenger. Because of Cristiano Ronaldo, for example. He can elevate the level of the team," the Dutchman said.

"Portugal also have very good players, I think they can beat anyone, but can also lose."


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