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Europe's coaches react to World Cup draw

The coaches of Europe's FIFA World Cup candidates had mixed feelings after the draw, with Spain coach Vicente del Bosque predicting their title defence will be "very difficult".

Roy Hodgson, Fernando Santos and Paulo Bento at the World Cup draw
Roy Hodgson, Fernando Santos and Paulo Bento at the World Cup draw ©Getty Images

Group A: Brazil (hosts), Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon
Niko Kovač, Croatia coach
I am happy that we are playing the opening match of the World Cup, we will have top preparations for that big game against Brazil. The whole world will watch our match. Small Croatia against big Brazil. We will do everything to make our nation happy. We are coming to Brazil to play top football, but I will not predict now if we will go through. I am sure our players will give their best there.

Group B: Spain (holders), Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Vicente del Bosque, Spain coach
Defending our title will be very difficult because we are facing great teams, but we will try to do it. We can't say it was an easy draw. Getting through will be hard. I wouldn't say ours [is the group of death] because there are other very strong sections. Our first game is against the Netherlands, who have changed in terms of their style from the last World Cup.

They still have quality players like [Robin] van Persie, [Arjen] Robben and [Wesley] Sneijder and they will demand that we be at our best. Chile always makes things uncomfortable for you and have some expert players. They are a tricky side. I also imagine that Australia will have players who will make things complicated. It will be a great World Cup.

Louis van Gaal, Netherlands coach
You cannot really do anything about it, but it is fair to say that it is not a good draw for us. We will play the reigning world champions, Australia, who we have never beaten so far, and Chile. I saw them play against Colombia when they went 3-0 up and showed that they are a good team. If we look at our opponents, it is a difficult draw. You obviously expect to progress and we will then meet a team from Brazil's group. We might meet Brazil in the next round, so it is not the best draw from a Dutch perspective. I would have preferred Group H. We do not have a lot of time to prepare either after arriving in Brazil, so it is a bad draw in that respect.

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Fernando Santos, Greece coach
It is a very open group and this time I think that we, and everyone else in the group, is satisfied with the draw. It is a perfectly balanced group where anything can happen, as it was in our group in the finals of EURO 2012 with Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic. You might give a slight edge to Colombia over the other group participants. What is important now is to analyse and study out opponents as best we can and give 100% of ourselves when we arrive in Brazil. Colombia is a very strong team and we know them very well. The Ivory Coast is already very strong and experienced with [Didier] Drogba, Yaya Toure and Gervinho. It is a very balanced group but I believe we will impose ourselves and try to win.

Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
Roy Hodgson, England manager
It's a tough group, there's no doubt about it. With Uruguay and Italy we've almost got two No1 seeds in our group. Of course, we all know how good Italy are because we lost on penalties to them in the quarter-finals of the EUROs. You're always hoping [for a good draw] − there weren't many scenarios when you would've been jumping for joy. To get a group that is a bit tougher doesn't surprise me at all.

We talked yesterday about it and I was positive about the whole affair, and I still am. You don't win games on paper – you go out on each occasion 11 against 11 with the same field dimensions and if you're well-prepared you've got a chance to win all three games. We're here and we've got an interesting group with three top-quality opponents. They will be three exciting games and they will attract big audiences all around the world.

Cesare Prandelli, Italy coach
There are three FIFA World Cup winners [in the section] so it is definitely a difficult group. We are not worried, however – we are always more ready when we know it is difficult. I would have been more worried if all the media were starting to say it was an easy group. We have a slight advantage after playing the Confederations Cup in Brazil because we know how difficult the climatic conditions will be.

We will need a squad with 23 real athletes. We have to prepare extremely well. Difficult things are not always as difficult as you think when you actually face them. Our first objective is to qualify from the group stage. Costa Rica will be the most difficult team to face because we don't know them.

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras
Ottmar Hitzfeld, Switzerland Coach
We are not unhappy with this group. It will not be too easy, of course people say that we will have to beat teams like Ecuador and Honduras. But to be honest, these teams are especially good when it comes to tactics and technique. France is a great team with great players. In the end I see France and ourselves in the next round. Something very special is the meeting of Jürgen Klinsmann and the US team with Germany, this is great. Talking about the climate, I think it is no surprise that a European team has so far never won a World Cup in South America. Let us see if that will change in 2014.

Didier Deschamps, France coach
It could have been more complicated. Beyond the opponents the good news is that we do not play in the north, with high temperatures and humidity and a very large distance to cover. [The matches are] more or less in the same area, which is not too far from our base camp. This is rather good news. Switzerland will be the most difficult opponent.

I do not know the others as much as the Swiss. I saw that Ecuador finished fourth in South American qualifiers, and Honduras were third in qualifying. This will influence our opponents in friendlies, so in preparation a South American country will be required. The most important match will be the first. A win would put us in an ideal position.

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
Safet Sušić, Bosnia and Herzegovina coach
I think we got a good group, which, with a little luck we can pass through. But we could have got better, but what is done is done. We played recently against Argentina, and we were not outplayed. We can compete with them at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. I can imagine the Dragons desire to play well at the start of the championship. Nigeria and Iran are tough teams. For the players playing in a World Cup is different from the friendly matches. We have plenty of time to get ready to play and will play at least four friendly matches. Preparations for Brazil have already begun.

Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States
Joachim Löw, Germany coach
I accept the group as it is. It is a tough group and we will work hard for it. Now we know our opponents and the places where we will be playing so we will take the next step in our preparation now. The climate will play a very important role at the World Cup. We will try to get used to it in the training sessions ahead of the tournament.

We played Ghana at the World Cup 2010 and Portugal at EURO 2012. The game against the United States and Jürgen Klinsmann is very special – we have been good friends for a very long time. We will now make sure we will get the best possible accommodation for our stay in Brazil.

Paulo Bento, Portugal coach
It seems like a well-balanced group with one team, Germany, starting as favourites due to their potential and history, but both the USA and Ghana are also well-organised sides with several good individual players that have experience of playing for top European clubs. No matter what group we were given, we would have the same ambition: which is to go through to the next stage. To achieve that we will have to get as many points as possible, starting against Germany. We will fight with all our weapons believing that we can go through either as group winners or as runners-up.

Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea
Marc Wilmots, Belgium coach
This is a good draw, we have to say that clearly. With matches in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte we can book our basecamp in Sao Paulo. That is one hour from Rio and 45 minutes from Belo Horizonte. So ideal. The second round has to be our ambition. Korea Republic can compare a bit with Japan [who beat Belgium 3-2 in a November friendly]. They also play fast and technical football, but they are a step lower on the ladder compared to Japan.

Algeria might just have won the play-offs, but they are here and that says enough. Russia has a good team no matter what. We have to start the three group matches as if they were three cup finals. Together with Russia we are favourites to push through. But still, we have to play to get there.

Fabio Capello, Russia coach
It's a good group and the draw is not so bad. Another important thing is the location. We will play in the centre of Brazil, not in the north where it's really warm and humid and difficult to recover after games. I'm happy.

We have very interesting opponents. We know South Korea well because we played a friendly against them recently, while Belgium are one of the strongest European teams right now. Algeria are less-known, but we will have to play a good game against them as well.

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