Aus v Chile: The key battles

The World Cup is underway and there’s already been more controversy than a bunga bunga party at the Vatican.

The Socceroos would do well to ignore the shoddy refereeing decisions that marred the opening game and concentrate on the task in hand.

The team in front of them may have a couple of world class stars but it’s more vulnerable than the Croatian side that Australian managed to limit for large swathes of their last encounter.

If the Aussies are to take anything away from this game (and we’re confident they can) here are the key battles they need to win:

Socceroos’ fullbacks vs Alexis Sanchez

The diminutive Barcelona forward is a master of running the channels, and while his pace is often too much for most defences, the Australian back four makes up for its lack of experience with raw pace.

And they’ll need every yard of it to keep up with Chile’s main man.

He hits the channel, peeling off the centre halves, before cutting back inside the fullback to either, have pop at goal himself, or lay off balls for on-rushing midfielders.

Australia’s fullbacks will have to keep him on the outside, show him the by-line and then back themselves to have enough pace to nullify any crosses that reach the area.

Mile Jedinak vs Arturo Vidal

Vidal has established himself as one of the most effective central midfielders in Europe over the last couple of years at Italian giant Juventus.

Nicknamed ‘The Warrior’ by the Italian press for his take-no-prisoners tackles, Jedinak will need to keep a close eye on Vidal whilst not becoming preoccupied with him.

Chile’s midfield isn’t the strongest going forward, but is rock solid in defence. Vidal, while in possession of a rocket shot, is not a playmaker, and will be charged with breaking down Aussie attacks.

To get any penetration Mile needs to take his attention away from the wide men, with surging central runs during any breaks.

Tim Cahill in the air vs Chile’s tiny backline

Chile only picked four defenders in their World Cup squad and the tallest of them is just a gnat’s bollock over 1.75m.

Essentially they’ve got a back four of Oompa Loompas.

With the aerial might of Tim Cahill in the team, Australia should look to take advantage of any set pieces.

But perhaps more effective would be high crosses in open play. With flying wingers Oar, Leckie and Halloran - whoever plays should able to get to the by-line and get some crosses in - and with one of the best headers of the ball in the world up front, he should win out nine times out of 10.

The latest odds for the Socceroos opening match are Chile $1.40, Draw $4.50 and Australia $10.00. (These odds are subject to change.)

The above predictions are the views of the author and do not represent the views or opinions of  Sportsbet will not be held responsible, and does not accept any liability, for any loss or damage arising from any use of the information contained in the above predictions, and makes no representation that it has verified any of the information contained therein.