Smith: How the Socceroos can beat Spain

Former Socceroos technical manager Ron Smith hasn’t been surprised by Spain’s disappointing showing at the World Cup and says La Furia Roja will want to salvage some pride against Australia.

Smith, who previously has held several different coaching roles with the Socceroos and Football Federation Australia, said it was disappointing for Australia to lose to the Dutch.

“I thought we played to our strengths with a high tempo game and took advantage of the room Holland gave our full backs in the first half,” he said.

“As expected we didn't have any chances in the air but with Matthew Leckie having another top performance and able to run at defenders we created some chances with quick counters and were unlucky that Mark Bresciano didn't score in the first half.

“Matthew Spiranovic probably had the best chance from the free kick that went through the Dutch defenders but he failed to connect properly with his shot.

“I think our pressing upset the Dutch who are used to playing a slower game and it took them a while to get going. After Arjen Robben scored I don't think they had another attempt at goal in the first half. I thought we were lucky to get the penalty, had it been given against us I think we'd still be talking about it as we have had some terrible decisions against us in the past.  

“All up it was disappointing to lose but Holland played much better in the second half and forced Matty Ryan to make two excellent saves from inside the box.”

Smith, who has coached professionally for over 30 years and led the AIS’s football program for a decade, believes the Socceroos will use the same game plan against Spain.

“I think we'll play the same way against Spain but may not have as much joy at forcing errors because Spain are very good at withstanding pressing, better than Holland for sure,” he said.

“Frustration causes players to drop off or commit silly fouls and that's a danger against Spain, who have the ability to dominate territorially in the final third. Spain haven't been prolific scorers in the past and if they beat us I don't think it will be by much unless we get fatigued.

“Spain have been disappointing in some respects but I'm not surprised. The same players have won everything at club and national level and some appeared tired and uninspired, which doesn't surprise me. I think a number will quit international football after the World Cup. 

“Chile were impressive versus Spain, with quick play in Spain's half and deserved the win; they looked hungry and determined and desperate to succeed. They will both want to finish top of the group so the match against Holland should be an intense affair.”

Smith is expecting the 2010 World Cup champions to ring the changes for their match against Australia.

“Spain will want to salvage some pride against us and I wouldn't be surprised to see three or four changes in the starting line up as they have such depth in the squad,” the 65-year old said.

“We have to be careful and must play to our maximum and I don't think Ange will make changes to the starting line up unless it's in the best interests of the player's welfare. Don't forget, all our players, young and old, will be wanting to play against Spain.

“With Tim Cahill out I'd like to see Leckie start up front with Ben Halloran and Tommy Oar wide; that would allow changes to bring in Adam Taggart and/or Dario Vidosic as the players tire.

“If Bresciano is out it would give James Troisi a chance to start. I think Matty McKay will be hoping he gets selected again in Mark Milligan's absence and I don't think there will be any changes in the back line.”