Soccer-Spain pairing with Netherlands odd, Casillas says


MADRID, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Spain captain Iker Casillas has said he finds it strange that the format of the draw for the World Cup finals allowed the holders to be placed in the same group as Netherlands, the team they beat in the final in 2010.

Spain, who will play the Dutch in their opening Group B match in Salvador on June 13, were one of eight seeded teams in pot one for Friday's draw, while Netherlands were in pot four along with eight other non-seeded European sides.

The seeds were decided based on the October FIFA rankings and as well as Spain included hosts Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland and Uruguay.

Casillas told a news conference organised by his club Real Madrid to discuss the draw he agreed that it was odd that the champions would have to play the nation they beat in the previous final in their first match.

They go on to meet Group B rivals Chile in Rio De Janeiro on June 18 and Australia in Curitiba five days later.

"Sometimes it is hard to understand very well the way draw is done," Casillas said.

"I do not agree with the format," the Real goalkeeper added. "But when all is said and done we are not the ones who decide which teams are better than others."

European champions in 2008 and 2012, Spain are bidding to become the first European nation to win the World Cup in South America and are one of the favourites for the tournament along with the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Italy.

"The draw was tough," Casillas said.

"It includes the runners-up from last time who had a magnificent qualifying campaign.

"And Chile who have always given us problems the last two or three years when we have played them.

"Having said that, I understand that any player would see Spain as one of the big favourites as what has been achieved in the last few years gives it that right." (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Justin Palmer)

What to Read Next